SEWF Verification: The process
This blog is the third in a new series on SEWF Verification.
So far this blog series has explored why SEWF developed SEWF Verification, who our key partners are and where we will verify social enterprises. This blog explores how the verification process will work.
As a recap: The programme was designed in response to demand within the social enterprise sector for a global social enterprise verification system that was accessible, affordable and culturally responsive. We worked with social enterprise intermediaries, many of whom already verify or certify social enterprises locally, to coalesce around a set of global social enterprise standards and we will continue to work with them to ensure their locally verified social enterprises who meet these standards can still access benefits of SEWF Verification. However, we will primarily verify social enterprises in countries where verification or certification does not exist and invite social enterprises in these regions to begin their verification process now.
THE PILOT PHASE
The pilot phase will run up to 30 September 2022. During the pilot, SEWF Verification is free to social enterprises due to support from our partners. SEWF is using the 9-month pilot phase to determine the exact cost of the verification process so we can offer this service at cost to social enterprises moving forward. We anticipate that an initial verification will cost no more than £75 and that the annual renewal price will be no more than £50. Even social enterprises that are verified for free during the pilot will still have to budget for the annual renewal cost to continue receiving benefits associated with SEWF Verification.
SEWF will be verifying social enterprises directly. We will be supported by local partners to better understand local contexts, legal structures and languages where we require additional expertise to ensure an organisation meets our standards to become SEWF Verified. There is a 3-step process to SEWF Verification.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISES IN COUNTRIES WITHOUT SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CERTIFICATION OR VERIFICATION
- Take SEWF Verification eligibility quiz
- Complete Good Market application
- Send documents to SEWF for review
Before beginning the verification process, all social enterprises should take SEWF’s quick 1-minute quiz to check that they likely meet our standards. If the standards appear to be met, the social enterprise will be directed to complete a profile on SEWF’s Good Market page. This free application only takes 20-30 minutes and helps transparently (i.e. through continuous community review) document an organisation’s mission and business practices while giving them access to integrated online store options and community visibility. Once they are Good Market approved, SEWF will contact them to request further documentation (their governing and accounting documents) to allow us to verify they meet our standards we cannot verify through the Good Market application. Once we have received all the documents and have verified the organisation meets the standards to become an SEWF Verified Social Enterprise, they will be officially added to our social enterprise directory (via the SEWF network page on Good Market) and will be able to begin accessing other market benefits. These benefits will be detailed more in the next verification blog.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISES WHO CAN BE VERIFIED OR CERTIFIED LOCALLY
For social enterprises who are already verified in a country or region, or who would be eligible to be verified or certified as a social enterprise by a local body, the process looks slightly different. While each individual agreement with existing social enterprise certification and verification organisations will vary, in principle, social enterprises verified via our dual verification process will follow similar steps.
- Complete a Good Market application to be added to the local organisation’s Good Market network page as well as SEWF’s Good Market page
- Complete a public ‘Social Enterprise Commitment’ via Good Market to attest to meeting the SEWF standards
- Send their local verifying/certifying organisation any additional relevant documentation for due diligence document checks
In these cases, there is no eligibility quiz because SEWF has worked with intermediaries to map our standards and verification processes against one another and develop partnership agreements based on alignment of standards and mutual knowledge of processes. If every organisation that receives membership benefits from an intermediary would not meet SEWF’s standards, the local intermediary who knows their members/directory best will only be recommending the social enterprises who meet the standards for SEWF Verification go through our additional application process via Good Market.
Once that application is complete, the social enterprise will be listed on both their local organisation’s Good Market page, if they have one, and SEWF’s page. To provide an additional level of quality assurance, there will be situations where at random SEWF requests various social enterprises’ governing documents and account statements directly from the intermediary who originally verified or certified them. In these cases, the intermediary will liaise with the social enterprise to provide the proper documentation to SEWF and SEWF will not contact the social enterprise directly.
The final blog in this series will discuss what happens once a social enterprise becomes SEWF Verified and what opportunities we hope this will open.