The Social Procurement Manual

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September 29, 2021

Social procurement: a source for corporate competitive advantage and increased social value.  Yunus Social Business releases practical findings in latest global study

The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that eight supply chains (namely food, construction, fashion, FMCG, electronics, automotive, professional services, and freight) account for 50% of global emissions. While at present, these supply chains represent a large problem in our common fight for a more sustainable future, they also offer the opportunity for an effective solution - through corporate social procurement.  

‘Corporate Social Procurement’ is defined as the process of companies buying goods or services from social businesses with the explicit intention of creating net positive societal or environmental impact through the company’s procurement function. Industry representatives are certainly taking note - a 2021 Oxford Economics study reveals that 86% of supply chain leaders consider sustainability as a competitive differentiator. But with the answer to why becoming more and more clear, the next big frontier is about understanding how.

On October 5, Yunus Social Business in partnership with Porticus and the World Economic Forum’s COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs (CRASE) will be releasing a research report - The Social Procurement Manual - on integrating social businesses into corporate supply chains. The practical guide brings together learnings from industry leaders who have successfully initiated social procurement projects within their organizations including the likes of Williams-Sonoma, The Body Shop, Deloitte, and PwC. A companion report - Corporate-Ready: How Corporations and Social Enterprises Are Doing Business Together to Drive Impact and Growth - led by Acumen and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship was released the same day, providing survey data that demonstrates how social enterprises bring inclusion, social impact, and sustainability to corporate value chains.

As the research reveals, social procurement holds immense opportunities, not just for social businesses but also for the corporations that choose to work with them. 55% of corporations in the study reported that business model innovations came about as a result of working together with social businesses. To add, the majority of corporations interviewed during the research found social businesses to be competitive especially on quality, supply assurance, and price. This is in addition to the handful of non-financial benefits that social procurement initiatives have been found to drive, including improved brand equity and employee engagement.

CEO and Co-founder of Yunus Social Business, Saskia Bruysten states, “our Business As Unusual research series designs practical guides based on the real experiences of companies who are building social intrapreneurship initiatives or working directly with social enterprises. Through our decade-long work with social businesses, it’s amazing to see an increasing engagement from corporations who want to build these lasting partnerships. But like any partnership, social procurement takes commitment and compromise from both sides. Collaboration is vitally important to us - so we are delighted to work with these partners and funders who are just as committed to social business as we are.”

The practitioner’s playbook is available for download here and is a key effort in Yunus Social Business’s mission to harness the power of business to solve the world’s most pressing issues. Based on this research, Yunus Social Business will launch a support program in 2022 that facilitates commercial partnerships between companies and relevant social businesses. The program builds on a global network of social enterprises through the CRASE alliance, leading experts in the space and support mechanisms to fast-track partnerships between corporations and social enterprises.

About Yunus Social Business

Yunus Social Business (YSB) believes in the power of business to end poverty, a model pioneered by co-founder, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus. YSB has supported over 1,800 social entrepreneurs worldwide to build meaningful social businesses in agriculture, health, education, mobility, clean water, and energy. The company has also accelerated the transformation of corporations into net “people and planet” positive businesses by applying their core competencies to some of the greatest human challenges. Founded in 2011, YSB has headquarters in Berlin and is led by co-founder and CEO Saskia Bruysten. For more information about YSB, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or visit us at

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