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We verify your social enterprise status

Be recognised as a Social Trader’s certified social enterprise and assure business and government members of your social enterprise credentials. We make it easy.

Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people with access to employment and training, or help the environment.

ST certification assures stakeholders that a social enterprise has a social, cultural or environmental purpose as its primary objective, that a substantial portion of its revenue is derived from commercial trade, and that the majority of the organisation’s efforts and resources are invested into the social purpose.

Read more on the definition of social enterprise

What is certification?

By becoming Social Traders certified we’re able to connect social enterprises that can supply products, services and social impact with our business and government buyer members, as well as other stakeholders interested in working with social enterprises.

Becoming Social Traders certified attracts an annual fee of $500 (exGST) and makes it easier to be recognised as a social enterprise.

Read more about the launch of certification

ST Certification Checklist

For your ST certification application, you need to provide evidence that you meet the ST certification criteria.  

Use this simple checklist to help you prepare the correct documentation.

Why certify?

Various stakeholders, including government and other businesses, rely on third party certification when they work with social enterprises. It’s how they can manage the risks of suppliers misrepresenting themselves as social enterprises.

There are market advantages for social enterprises and so there is an increased significance in legitimate use of the label.

Benefits of being Social Traders certified:

CREDIBILITY
  • Be recognised as a Social Traders certified social enterprise and assure business and government members of your social enterprise credentials.
  • Allows use of the trademarked ST certification logomark and marketing materials.
JOIN the Community
  • Share best practice and challenges with other social enterprise procurement leaders and stay abreast of current sector developments.
  • Allows access to social enterprise networks via our purpose-built social procurement portal, increasing opportunities for social enterprises to buy products and services from each other.
  • Receive regular #STcertified news sector insights, updates and event invitations.
CONNECT with customers
  • Gain access and exposure to our growing list of business and government members who work with us to increase their spend with social enterprises through your profile in the ST procurement portal.
  • Attend social procurement networking events.
  • Leverage our relationships with business and government organisations who are actively incorporating social enterprise into their supply chain.
  • Inclusion in social enterprise lists as requested by our business and government members.
HELP grow your business
  • The opportunity to scale and grow your business through access to a range of tailored services available for ST certified social enterprises (fees vary depending on extent of project).
  • Increase your enterprise’s capability and capacity to win and deliver on social procurement contracts of various sizes.

The certification logomark

When an enterprise is certified we provide them with access to a logomark that confirms this relationship.

By extending Social Traders brand equity to the trusted social enterprises we work with, this trademarked certification logo provides assurance to business and government buyer members that Social Traders has endorsed a business as a social enterprise.

Once certified, we provide social enterprises with access to the logomark and marketing guidelines.

ST Certification Standards

Our certification standards have been developed:

  • Based on extensive sector research
  • With independent financial and legal experts
  • With input from Australian social enterprises
  • With reference against progressive social enterprise sectors in Europe and North America
  • By leveraging 10 years of work with Australian social enterprises
  • Social Traders consults the ST certification Advisory Group for more complex applications of the certification standards

Covid-19 may impact the ability of some social enterprises to meet certification criteria. Talk to us about your specific circumstances. For a full copy of our guidance notes contact us.

STANDARD DOCUMENTS
Social Traders collects legal and financial documents based on the age of the social enterprise
0 - < 2 years2 - 5 years
  • Signed legally binding governing documents*
  • Complete financials (to date)
  • Business plan
  • 12-month cash flow forecast
  • Signed legally binding governing documents*
  • 2 most recent years of financial statements at the enterprise level
  • Most recent year of financial statements for
    the parent organisation (if applicable)
*In Yr 1, enterprises without complete governing documents can submit the Social Traders verification certificate, with associated changes to be implemented by Yr 2

STANDARD ASSESSMENT ITEMS  
There are some quick items that are assessed across all enterprises
  • Initial meeting to understand the social purpose and business model
  • ABN/ACNC check
  • Understanding of the relationship between related entities (if applicable)*
  • Quick solvency assessment
*Social Traders may not be able to certify some organisations with complex group structures
FULL CRITERIA

The criteria are based on the FASES definition of a social enterprise. Certification takes into account the age and impact model of the social enterprise
1. The enterprise has a defined primary social, cultural or environmental purpose consistent with a public or community benefit

  • Clear primary social purpose, consistency in its articulation, and alignment with the business model
  • Terms consistent with operating as a social enterprise embedded in governing documents OR verification certificate indicating commitment (Yr1 only)
  • Public facing documents (e.g. website, annual report) referencing the stated purpose

2. The enterprise derives a substantial portion of its income from trade

  • 50% or more for ventures that are more than 5 years from start-up
  • 25% or more for ventures that are 2 – 5 years from start-up
  • Demonstrable intention to trade for ventures that are less than 2 years from start-up
  • Enterprises with major shifts in strategy may be treated as early stage
  • Historical financial statements and/or planning documents may be requested to demonstrate
    intention to grow trading revenue for marginal cases
3. The enterprise invests efforts and resources into its purpose such that public/community benefit outweighs private benefit

  • Key test is that public/community benefit outweighs private benefit
  • Direct costs to the social purpose as outlined below, related to the stated social purpose category, as a % of prior year net profit after tax* (these are and/or options):
  • Employment and/or training for disadvantaged people

    Total expenditure on wages for beneficiary employees and any direct support costs

  • Product or service of need to the community that is unmet by the mainstream market

    SEs direct expenditure on providing a product or service of need to a community.

  • Donating profits for a specified charitable purpose

    Dollar value donated or invested towards a charitable purpose including direct expenditure on managing recipient relationships.

*Social Traders uses prior year net profit after tax (as the denominator). Where there is no profit, Social Traders will conduct a more detailed financial assessment.

FAQs

Still have questions about certification? Check out the FAQs below or contact us

How long does Social Traders certification take?
In our experience, if all evidence is submitted, the review and clarifications can be done within two weeks of submission.
Who assesses my application?
Social Traders certification team will review your application. While you’ll primarily be working with a Social Traders representative, more complex cases for certification are referred externally for third party review.
What does it cost to become ST certified?
Social Traders certification attracts an annual fee of $500 per year. If your organisation runs multiple social enterprises, each additional application and profile in the social procurement portal attracts a discounted annual fee of $200 per year.
What are my options if my ST certification is denied?
If you feel that you have been unfairly assessed, please contact us to discuss your options.
Are there any organisations that can’t be certified?
At this stage our certification process cannot cater for: sole traders or partnerships (get in touch with us once you have incorporated your businesses), government entities that don’t operate independently or comply with competition policies, private companies that are transitioning to a social enterprise without a clear model, or group structures where public benefit does not outweigh any private benefit. For a full copy of our guidance notes please contact certification@socialtraders.com.au

There may be other instances where we can’t certify an organisation.
What is NOT assessed as part of certification?
Social Traders explicitly certifies that an organisation is a social enterprise based on the social enterprise definition. Certification does not encompass other compliance matters including but not limited to verification of insurances, compliance with Australian laws, and business long-term viability. As a certified social enterprise, you may end up working with our government and business members who may ask you about other compliance matters.
How will I know when my enterprise is put forward to business & government buyer members?
As a certified social enterprise, your profile details are always available to business and government buyers in our social procurement portal. In some circumstances, Social Traders will create tailored lists of social enterprises in response to a specific requests. As a ST social enterprise, you will receive invites to exclusive networking events where you will meet buyer members and other certified social enterprises, you may also receive invitations to speak and highlight your social enterprise at our networking and social procurement training events.
Am I guaranteed to win work?
We cannot guarantee you will win work – that’s down to how and when you engage with the business and government members, which includes completing a profile in the social procurement portal and attending social procurement networking events. What ST certification gives you is more than a foot in the door, our introductions significantly cut through your sales lead times. You will meet business and government buyers who are actively working with Social Traders to increase their social procurement spend. There is work out there for social enterprises. We’ve seen game changing work won with many of our facilities maintenance and catering social enterprises, we’ve also seen niche opportunities arise such as a deal to provide flu shots across Melbourne infrastructure projects. If your product or service can sell to a business, there’s potential for you to win work in applying for ST certification and meeting business and government buyers who are looking for traditional and innovate ways to include social enterprise in their supply chain.
What if we're not ready to take on large scale projects?
We put you in front of our business and government buyer members, what work you agree to take on is up to you. You are responsible to bid for work you can deliver on. Once you are Social Traders certified you have access to a range of growth support and advice services (additional fees apply) with our industry experts, tailored to help you win and deliver on contracts. If you are interested in forming or joining a consortium, we can work with you to help understand the upcoming opportunities for work and parameters for working together.

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