Assessing social business contributions to sustainability: the development, application and evaluation of a tool to measure the contribution that social businesses make to sustainability in the UK
Lauren Darby, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Using a case study approach, this paper describes and evaluates the development and application of a tool to measure the contribution to sustainable development that social businesses can make.

Social businesses usually operate on a Ďnot for profití basis and provide employment, support and training for those marginalised in the employment market. Any profits made are generally returned to the business or perhaps the local environment or community for development work, and as a result this business model is gaining recognition for the contribution it can make to sustainable development. It is difficult to assess the full extent of the impact on social, economic and environmental issues that social businesses can make but itís important for these to be assessed as although social businesses are gaining acknowledgement from the Government and others, without measurement it can be difficult to prove their value in this sense. Measurement of social business contribution to sustainability can in turn be beneficial when, for example, support from external organisations, financial or otherwise is being sought.

In this paper, tools to measure business contributions to sustainability will be assessed in relation to their usefulness and applicability to the social business model. Using an in depth case study example, the development and piloting of a new tool to measure the contributions to sustainability that the social business case study can make will be described and evaluated. Discussion will then be centred on the further development and application of such a tool to other social businesses and an assessment of the usefulness and potential pitfalls of such an approach.

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