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Social Procurement: The Path to Making a Difference in the World

By Enrique Rodríguez Aréchiga - Someone Somewhere
Co-Founder and CFO


By Enrique Rodríguez Aréchiga | Co-Founder & COO - Thu, 03/02/2023 - 14:00

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Do you work in a corporation and want to make a difference in the world? If so, you have the power to make a powerful social and environmental impact through Social Procurement within your organization without having to shift any business model. You only need to shift the way you supply.

Social Procurement is the practice of companies selecting social enterprises as suppliers for goods and services in their value chain to generate social value through their current purchases. The expected benefits are in social, environmental, and ethical terms. For example:

  • Promoting local businesses

  • Creating job opportunities for disadvantaged groups (handicapped, migrants, refugees, Indigenous Peoples, African Americans)

  • Ensuring ethical standards

  • Usage of renewable energy

  • Ensuring less harm to the environment by mitigation or offsetting

Talking about Social Procurement is not talking about philanthropy, charity, or donations to different social causes that are not related to the core business of the company. It is not about taking employees on a one-day volunteer trip to paint a school or plant trees. 

How can you start to create social value through Social Procurement from your position? The following chart explains each department's challenges in its responsibilities and the reasons to engage with Social Procurement to add value to the core business in the long term.


How can you make Social Procurement a reality in your organization? While reading this article, you may have some ideas in mind already, but let's see the critical factors for success:

  • Strategy: It will be essential to design a viable case study linked to your department's plan or the company's core business.

  • Stakeholders: You are the champion of this initiative, but you must have the support of key players around you who can make the initiative flourish.

  • Processes: Map the processes you may need to go through because they may need to be adjusted to integrate the new supplier you are promoting. 

  • Storytelling: You must pitch the social impact potential effectively. 

Here are some tips to start:

  • Buy their products to check them in real life (not only on Instagram).

  • Schedule a first meeting in person; the leaders must give you confidence.

  • Make sure that their social or environmental impact is genuine.

  • Do due diligence, checking their clients, references, and certifications.

  • Assess their scalability in terms of the volumes you require.

  • Make sure that they know how to mitigate the potential operational risks.

  • Suggest a small pilot first.

  • Give them visibility on the scope of the partnership in terms of timing, volumes, pricing, payment terms, and quality, among others.

Case Study: Someone Somewhere’s Value Proposition for Social Procurement

Someone Somewhere partners with companies committed to sustainability and social responsibility and with corporations that must achieve ESG results and must make their efforts and commitments real. Our impact team creates a program with the company to ensure the social impact is long-lasting. When the program runs, we organize field trips to the communities so that the company’s employees can engage with the community and see the effects of the partnership.

The Social Procurement Program includes creating fair and constant job opportunities for artisanal communities in Mexico, especially for women artisans in rural areas. Our Impact Methodology: Pathway measures the social transformation of the communities throughout the years. Our Bcorp certification validates that we are aligned with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that we look for constant improvement in our social and environmental practices. We are also Climate Neutral-certified, which means we mitigate and offset our carbon footprint for all our operations.

According to the company’s DNA and its brand requirements, our design team creates unique products (bags, garments, accessories.), integrating artisanal techniques and sustainable materials so that we can ensure social value.

Our supply chain team offers nearshore production manufacturing from Mexico, international logistics, high-quality standards, high volumes, competitive costs, and certificates of origin under the USMCA agreement to avoid importation duties. 

Finally, our marketing team ensures that all the effort to create the Social Procurement partnership between Someone Somewhere, as a social enterprise, and the corporation, is well transmitted to the world. We create a marketing strategy to launch the partnership in international outlets, a web page, and on social media.

What’s Next for You?

In this article, I’ve shared the concept of Social Procurement, which can give a greater meaning to anyone’s professional life. Social Procurement is about creating social value while doing business and can be done in every company, no matter the size or the sector. Corporations with their purchasing power can drive real, meaningful changes by adopting Social Procurement in their value chain while increasing their competitive advantage in the market and achieving their sustainability and ESG commitments.

Everyone can make a change from their position. If you don’t think you’re well positioned or do not feel ready to bring forward a Social Procurement initiative in your organization, please share this article with someone who may be interested. And if you know of any social enterprises, connect them with your network so they can achieve their social purpose.

P.S. You may also find the Social Procurement concept as the following synonyms: Sustainable Sourcing, Social Sourcing, Responsible Procurement, Ethical Procurement, and Green Procurement. 

Photo by:   Enrique Rodríguez Aréchiga

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