The value of SEWF Verification: what are social enterprises saying?
SEWF Verification is focused on supporting social enterprises across the world by creating several opportunities they can access. Becoming an SEWF Verified Social Enterprise and gaining recognition at the international level (as part of the global social enterprise movement) has several, direct benefits for social enterprises in their daily operations.
As these partnerships and benefits associated with SEWF Verification continue to grow, we will periodically share stories of some social enterprises that have been SEWF Verified. This blog features perspectives on SEWF Verification from two different social enterprises: Last Forest in India and JTS in Scotland.
On the importance of having a set of global standards to protect the movement
Last Forest is a social enterprise in India creating sustainable livelihood opportunities. They connect communities in the Nilgiri hills with fair trade markets for organic and wild forest products. Their social enterprise and fair trade business model is difficult for many people to understand, especially in India where there is no widely accepted definition or straightforward answers around what a social enterprise is.
Mathew John, Last Forest’s Managing Director, explained that he has ‘constantly struggled for a clear definition that would put [Last Forest] in a slot/niche.’ From his perspective, ‘It is important that there is dialogue and promotion of a greater understanding of social enterprises, respecting the efforts of all who work towards sustainable and inclusive economic development.’
While this dialogue is important, he also acknowledged that ‘Many a time, some of the terms that try and encapsulate [the] value systems [at Last Forest] are very quickly taken over by corporate bodies and misused.’ So, for Mathew and the team at Last Forest, SEWF’s validation of the organisation as a social enterprise under the SEWF standards is an important part of their business evolution, because it places them in the community of internationally recognised social enterprises. This affirms that many of the values and principles they ‘have nurtured and hold precious are very critical – not only for [Last Forest] but also the outside world.’
On increasing market opportunities for the SEWF Verified organisation and those they aim to support
JTS is an organisation that facilitates the import and distribution of fairly traded food products in the United Kingdom. They educate consumers on the benefits of fair trade and for them, having external validation as a social enterprise from SEWF has been important. They view their SEWF Verification as an opportunity to ‘help [them] support [their] producer partners through increasing the sales of their wonderful food products.’
Having gone through the process of becoming SEWF Verified, they hope that potential customers will be even more encouraged to purchase from them with new assurance that they are a mission-locked social enterprise, doing good for the community. According to JTS’s recent press release, ‘JTS has long considered itself a social enterprise and acted as such. However, the scrutiny and approval of a respected third party gives consumers added confidence in the company’s claims.’
Learn more about some of the other social enterprises that have been SEWF Verified by visiting SEWF’s network page on Good Market! You can also learn more about SEWF Verification and start your verification process today.