How and Why we work

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Our Mission

Purchasing for People and Planet

Our Mission is to support the grassroots growth of a social procurement ecosystem for the USA. We do this by bringing together business, government and institutional buyers and facilitating the purchase of their everyday goods and service needs from certified social enterprise business sellers. We share knowledge, we help educate, make connections and share best practices - both in the United States and around the world.

 

Defining Social Enterprise

At Buy Social USA we believe in the global definition of social enterprise that has been adopted in most countries. We use this definition because in the USA a social enterprise can take make legal entity forms, some of which are not available in all states - a social enterprise could form as a 501c3 (not-for-profit), a Benefit Corporation (different from a B Corp), an LLC, an L3C - the possibilities are many, but the core principals are the same:

  1. That the organization exists first to support a social or environmental mission and it can demonstrate its impact.

  2. That more than 50% of the net profit made by the social enterprise is reinvested in achieving that social or environmental mission. It could also invest in impact straight from the top line.

  3. That the social enterprise business is independent and not controlled by a “For-Private-Profit” business entity.

  4. That the social enterprise has an Asset Lock within its governing corporate documents which stipulates that if the social enterprise closed down, all remaining monies, after repayment of debts and investors, would be given to another social enterprise company.

  5. That the social enterprise is not grant reliant and makes more than 50% of its revenue from selling goods or services. This can include grants and investments for outputs or services.

  6. That the organization does not do anything to cause harm to people or planet and does not pay inflated bonuses or salaries to owners.

For more information on the global standards click here for a copy of the 2020 Social Enterprise World Forum paper – Understanding Social Enterprise.

 

The United States is a unique country with differing state laws and no single business entity type for a social enterprise – it is also a country where grassroots organizing is strong and vibrant. When we founded Buy Social USA we wanted to learn from our colleagues in other countries that have vibrant social procurement ecosystems and also marry our organization with our local strengths. For this reason we chose a network of networks approach.

 

Connecting networks of buyers: Buy Social USA works with all shapes and sizes of organization, be they local, state-wide, national or international. We recognize the role that each of these organizations can play in helping to build a strong and vibrant social procurement movement across the United States. Whether you run a small local business, a non-profit, are part of local or state government, a university, hospital, place of worship, state-wide or national corporation you can play your part. When you choose to incorporate goods and services from certified social enterprises into your supply chains you unleash the biggest potential for true and sustainable community, environmental and societal impact. 

Connecting networks of sellers: Buy Social USA chose to work alongside, rather than duplicate the efforts of, local organizations that support social enterprise businesses - membership organizations like Social Enterprise Alliance which has 17 local Chapters throughout the country, as well as Fair Trade Federation, a trade association that supports fair trade enterprises fully committed to equitable and sustainable trading partnerships across the world. are supported to grow a social procurement movement that works in that local area, but the Local Network is also part of a national and international network of organizations with a common vision and goals.

Connecting other ecosystem builders: Buy Social USA recognizes that it takes a whole range of interconnected organizations and service providers to help grow the impact economy. At the core of our work is a desire to build networks of networks, physical and virtual places for stakeholders to come together. Be that local, regional or interest specific networking events, building communities of practice for the sharing of our combined learning or linking social procurement champions to their peers from around the world, we want to share open and transparent information amongst organizations big and small.

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LOCAL TO NATIONAL

Buy Social USA works with each local network to provide the missing puzzle pieces – bringing people together, sharing best practice and learning, toolkits and support. The role of Buy Social USA is to ensure that Local Networks have all of the resources and connections they need to be successful.

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NATIONAL TO GLOBAL

We support local networks to connect to national and international stakeholders in the social procurement space. The aim is to support and include all initiatives whilst ensuring that purpose is at the core of every stakeholders mission. 

We ensure that the social enterprise sellers have been verified and accredited so that buyers can trust their purchase decisions. 

Good Market

A CURATED MARKETPLACE

Good Market is a curated marketplace, which means all enterprises go through an application and review process to ensure they meet minimum standards for their sector and prioritize people and planet in their decision making. ​

The application questions and minimum standards were developed by analyzing more than 50 sustainability certification standards, ​aggregating industry best practices, and translating them into everyday language. The minimum standards are updated, and improved based on community feedback. 

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A CERTIFIED SELLER NETWORK

Society Profits is a US based social enterprise that certifies genuine sellers to make sure they meet the Buy Social USA definition of what a social enterprise is. 

Buyers can rest assured that social enterprises carrying the USA Certified Social Enterprise badge have been fully vetted and approved as sellers with people and planet at the core of all that they do.

Society Profits can also verify Certified B Corps that consider themselves social enterprises if they want to join the Buy Social USA seller network.

 

Creating a Network of Networks