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Charity Industry News

Ground-breaking research collaboration to shine a light on social enterprise


The Womens Organisation has announced a national partnership with Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) to commission pioneering research highlighting the role social enterprise can play in economic recovery.

Ground-breaking research collaboration to shine a light on social enterprise


"The Womens Organisation is committed to supporting a stronger social economy, and we believe now is the time to trust social enterprises to take on the social, economic and environmental challenges"
Maggie O'Carroll



Liverpool-based charity, The Women’s Organisation, will collaborate with ERC, the UK’s leading centre of excellence for research into the growth, innovation and productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to deliver new research on social enterprise.

Produced by recognised economic experts across the UK and internationally, the research will offer expert insights into how social enterprises can play a key role in driving economic recovery and support the communities hit hardest by the impact of COVID-19.

Research will be delivered in a special series of five State of the Art (SOTA) reviews, tackling individual key themes in relation to social enterprise, such as employment and skills opportunities, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

Set to be published in Autumn 2020, the SOTA reviews will be launched through an online event and be made readily available for download for policymakers, business-leaders and wider audiences.

SOTA reviews were established by the ERC, which has research bases at both Warwick University Business School and Aston University Business School, in response to a growing demand from policymakers for specialist concise summaries on topical issues within the social economy sector.

The research will draw upon the latest economic evidence, address research gaps, and respond to key policy questions, seeking to provide solutions to the economic, social and environmental problems facing the UK following COVID-19.

This partnership follows the news that The Women’s Organisation was this year listed in the top 1% of UK Social Enterprises in the SE100 Index, which is the country’s leading source of market intelligence on social enterprise.

CEO of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie O’Carroll, was also named as one of the UK’s most influential people in the social enterprise sector, making the top ten in Natwest’s WISE100 list as part of the SE100 Index.

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of The Women’s Organisation, says: “The social economy has long been a stalwart in providing opportunities to disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, a demographic that has been hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19. This ground-breaking research will highlight the key role that social enterprises can play in rebuilding the economy in a financially sustainable way, whilst also supporting individuals and communities who need it most.

“The Women’s Organisation is committed to supporting a stronger social economy, and we believe now is the time to trust social enterprises to take on the social, economic and environmental challenges currently facing our country. We are delighted to collaborate with the Enterprise Research Centre, a pioneering, internationally renowned research body, on this innovative research that will play a vital role in shaping a fairer, more sustainable and prosperous economy.”

Dr Vicki Belt, Deputy Director of the Enterprise Research Centre at Warwick University Business School, says: Covid-19 is having a huge impact on businesses and communities across the country. As we look to recovery, social enterprises - which have been a real success story in recent years - have the potential to play a key role. The ERC are delighted to be working in partnership with the Women’s Organisation to produce a new set of ‘State of the Art’ (SOTA) reviews on focusing on social enterprise. We launched our SOTA review series in response to the growing demand from policymakers for concise summaries of knowledge on topical issues in enterprise research. There are now over 40 reviews in the series. This new set of five reviews will fill several important knowledge gaps.

“Social enterprises generate huge value to the UK, and are often based within some of the most disadvantaged communities, employing some of the most vulnerable people in society. I am looking forward very much to working in partnership with the Women’s Organisation, with its wealth of practical experience in delivering business support and training, to explore critical issues around the role of social enterprise in economic recovery and in building a more a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive future.”

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