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The ClearlySo directory: a picture of social data

Jonny Kates
Jonny Kates, posted on 02.11.12

This week, our online directory of social businesses and enterprises (SBEs) surpassed 3,500 organisations. Each screened and vetted according to our criteria, lovingly updated by both ourselves and the entrepreneurs who run them, and freely available for the public to browse and filter until your heart's content.

The directory is a result of years of meticulous and at times painstaking research; finding organisations from all over the world that are using business to create a social and/or environmental impact. So what have we learnt? I decided to investigate a little bit deeper and dive headfirst in to the statistics"¦

  • 26% of social businesses and enterprises were founded over a decade ago. The oldest organisation in our directory is the YMCA, which was founded in 1844 by George Williams. The organisation's aim was to provide affordable, safe accommodation for rural young men and women travelling to the cities. Their ulterior motive - if you can put it that way - was to impart Christian teachings on to guests. The centres would combine preaching with "˜wholesome' activities in an attempt to steer people clear of other temptations such as drinking, gambling and prostitution.
  • 19% of social businesses and enterprises are delivering a public service. These organisations are operating in an industry of health, education, training or recycling and waste.
  • 8% of organisations have a Community Interest Company (CIC) legal structure, almost the same number who declared that they were a Company Limited by Guarantee. The Department for Business Innovation & Skills defines a CIC as "limited companies, with special additional features, created for the use of people who want to conduct a business or other activity for community benefit, and not purely for private advantage.
  • 29% of the businesses in our directory are from outside the UK. Our international network has grown rapidly and now spans across 69 countries. Amongst these organisations is D.Light - a company based in the Cayman Islands that helps households without electricity to move away from potentially dangerous kerosene lanterns to clean, safe light.
  • The most frequent social benefit observed in our directory is "˜community development', which describes businesses that empower individuals and groups within communities by working directly with them to effect change. The lowest observed benefit was for SBEs tackling racial inequality.

You can download our infographic that visually displays some of these statistics here or by clicking on the preview below.

We will continue to research and nurture our directory as the social economy grows. Despite never being able to truly capture the sector, we hope we can showcase some of the inspiring ventures out there making a real difference to the world we all share. If you're social enterprise doesn't have a profile, why not register today and join our network.



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