The Catalyst Market, an online marketplace that connects ethical, sustainable enterprises to conscious shoppers, formally launched on 30 March to a virtual audience that included Catalyst 2030 members, funders, partners and social entrepreneurs.
The market launched with thousands of products from more than 160 social enterprises from around the world and has ambitions to compete with global e-commerce giants. As Alexandra van der Ploeg, SAP Director of Global CSR, said at the launch, “We need to shoot for millions of social enterprises on the marketplace.” This scaling is something that SAP has offered to support.
Importantly, the Catalyst Market also fulfils a social mission. The sale of social entrepreneurs’ products creates livelihood opportunities for artisans, farmers and marginalised communities, with a particular focus on producers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“The market,” says Don Gips, CEO of the Skoll Foundation which has been an early supporter, “connects conscious producers and consumers; and accelerates the transition to an inclusive regenerative social economy. I am so excited to see how far this has come.”
Catalyst 2030 developed the Catalyst Market as a future-forward sellers’ marketplace that removes the barriers experienced by many social enterprises around the world. It brings more visibility to the products of enterprises often excluded from the global economy, while reducing e-commerce and trade burdens. This gives many entrepreneurs the opportunities to support their own families and communities.
A truly innovative marketplace, the Catalyst Market offers open access, free verification, and ongoing education and life-long learning support. Kevin McAndrew Director, Innovation at the Rockerfeller Foundation, the market’s first funder, says that Catalyst 2030 has the mindset that his organisation favours, one that drives “breakthrough” solutions through collective action and collaboration. He sees the Catalyst Market as a breakthrough solution, being, “fit for purpose, reflect(ing) the needs of communities and adoption can be very widespread”.
Now that the Catalyst Market has launched, the focus is on achieving its ambitious goals of becoming the foremost global e-commerce platform. Says Alexandra, “If we want to make sure that social enterprises become mainstream as a supplier force, we need to make sure we increase their visibility. Social enterprises produce fantastic products and are also forces of social good because of their social mission, but because of the lack of visibility a lot of the purchasing power is lost. The Catalyst Market symbolises this visibility.”
Involve the corporate sector
To truly scale, Alexandra feels the focus should also include the corporate sector. “This is not just a b-to-c marketplace,” she says, “This is also a b-to-b market. So how do we bring the private sector in? How do we enable partnerships and buyer-supplier relationships between corporates and social enterprises so that we build completely new markets and significantly increase revenues for social enterprises?”
“This is why we support the Business Commitment because if we’re able to make visible to corporates the right way to do businesses, we’ll be well on our way to ensuring that social enterprises become main stream.”
Jessie Coates, Global Impact Entrepreneurship Leader for Ernst & Young (EY) which has helped the Catalyst Market navigate the technical complexities of setting up a global trading marketplace, explained, “A big part of this has been learning from and collaborating with the incredible social entrepreneurs within the Catalyst 2030 network. As much as we are supporting them, this has very much been a mutual exchange of value between our organisations.”
Catalyst Market gift cards
EY is deepening the collaboration by buying from these social entrepreneurs through the Catalyst Market. “We are purchasing gift cards for the EY leaders and employees who are participating in our social entrepreneurship campaign this week,” says Jessie. “What better gift could we give them?” she asked, congratulating Catalyst 2030 on achieving an inclusive and sustainable future for all.