Businesses that prioritise their social and environmental impact in 2022 stand to significantly grow their customer base, attract more investment and increase their bottom line, say organisers of a flagship Shropshire event.

Furthermore, those that recognise the importance of partnering with social enterprises will help contribute to the county’s growing economy and recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Emma Chapman, manager for the Marches Growth Hub Shropshire, which will host the Spark Social Conference on February 17 along with Shropshire Council, said: “Without doubt, those businesses taking their corporate social responsibilities seriously will be those that flourish in the coming year and beyond.

“There has been a significant shift in the mindset of consumers with studies suggesting that 77% of people are more likely to buy goods and services from businesses which demonstrate a genuine commitment to the environment and society.

“Those that don’t or can’t will soon get left behind. That’s why we are keen to do all we can through this year’s Spark Social Conference to ensure private sector companies across the county have all the knowledge and know-how to develop and run a successful corporate social responsibility strategy.”

Titled Purpose to Profit, the free, half day, virtual event will bring together Social Enterprises and private businesses to encourage greater partnership working.

There will be presentations, webinars and speeches from a range of expert speakers including Andrew O’Brien, director of external affairs at Social Enterprise UK – the UK’s leading authority on social enterprises.

There are currently 100,000 social enterprises in operation across the UK with a share of these being located in Shropshire which is a designated Social Enterprise Place.

In the previous year, according to the 2021 State of Social Enterprise Survey published by Social Enterprise UK, these businesses contributed £60 billion to the UK economy and employed two million people.

Mark Barrow, Executive Director of Place at Shropshire Council, said: “An effective partnership between the private sector and social enterprises could play a huge role in shaping the post-Covid economic landscape.

“Social enterprises have proven to be some of the most successful and resilient businesses over the last couple of years. Many private sector companies are already building social enterprises into their supply chains whether it be cleaning, catering, printing, design services or tangible products but there is certainly more that can be done.

“The conference next month will be a chance for private sector companies to engage and network with many of the county’s social enterprises so they can discuss ways of working profitably together for the benefit of their own organisations and the wider economy.”

For more details and to register for the event visit

The event is funded through the Shropshire Council-led ARG Economic Recovery programme.

The Recovery Programme is a £3.2m series of projects, utilising Additional Restriction Grant (ARG) funding from Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to fund wider business support activities.