How has the SOW programme helped SMEs?

Earlier this year I launched my SOW programme to help SMEs start to sow the seeds of sustainability in their small business. This programme helps them to brainstorm all the activities that they are already doing, what they are planning, and what more could they do better, and identify all the internal and external impacts be it financial, marketing, or performance.

Over the last three years, I have been trained and accredited by CSR-A and they use the four-pillar framework to benchmark, measure, collate, and report on an organisations activities in the areas of environment, workplace, community, and philanthropy.

The CSR-A accreditation that you can attain for your business using this information provides a roadmap for planning future activity, gives a competitive edge, and is intrinsic to every small business’s strategy helping to make impacts to help build a greener planet.

Why is CSR my passion for SMEs

I want to support as many SMEs as possible to SOW the seeds of sustainability in their business hence the name of the programme. So far this year I have supported three graphic designers, a software developer, a researcher in education, a financial consultant,  a firm of solicitors, an accountant, a marketing specialist, a social media marketing expert, and a software developer.

The SOW programme is split into 3 parts and SMEs can join at any point depending on where they are on their CSR journey. However, the clients I work with are ones that do not know where to start or they have pain points such as losing out on bids, tenders, preferred suppliers list, funding, and awards because they were unable to evidence and answer questions about sustainability.

Working with me means they have already got this information to hand and can easily evidence and stand out in their industry and against their competitors in the future.

The three parts of the SOW Programme

1. SOW  2. WEAVE and 3. BLOOM

SOW – This is the starting point to brainstorm and collate all the information and evidence about your business that you can regarding what you have been doing, could do better, plan to do and in some cases cannot do. This information is curated into producing a sustainability statement which is an external document and then also a roadmap which is an internal document.

The statement is a 1 to 2-page document that sets out what the business stands for with regard to environmental aspects, how it works as a business, and what activities it gets involved in for its community and enrichment in people’s lives via philanthropic efforts. This document can be used to send to clients, suppliers, and interested parties and added to literature and websites to show people that the sustainability journey has been started.

The roadmap is a longer document that lists all the impacts under the four pillars and clearly shows activities as a work in progress with what an SME has done and what it plans to do. Typically, this is used in management meetings to update on the status of activities and to help budget and plan their inclusion. Most SMEs have an employee or sustainability group in the business that champions these initiatives, record, and share successes, and action the next stages within the business. This process keeps everyone accountable and focused on the set goals and outcomes.

Once a small business has the SOW elements in place then all the business policies and procedures should be reviewed and updated to include all the SOW elements under the WEAVE section of the programme. Having done this work and implemented activities and decision making the business will start to reap the rewards of this work having embedded them into the business. The WEAVE stage ensures that the business is building on the foundations of its sustainability work ready to consider accreditation and that it is now recognised by others for its sustainable practices.

There are various accreditations that a SME can consider but each one will need evidence included in applications. Some accreditations will take longer than others to complete but they are a recognition of your efforts and show that an independent body has assessed the evidence and achievements. The accreditation application stage is the BLOOM stage and some SMEs will need support with the applications to ensure that all the evidence has been applied correctly.

So now this is a little clearer and you have reviewed the following infographics I will provide feedback from clients who have been through the SOW stage.


So now this is a little clearer and you have reviewed the above infographics here is some feedback from clients who have been through the SOW stage.

“It’s a simple method of demonstrating what you do in your business around sustainability, and it gives you a guide about what you can do to do better. It is a way of formalising it without an accreditation.”


“It’s a structured process, by which one can first ascertain one’s current position re: sustainability, and second identify what else a business can or should do to become more sustainable.”


“It allows businesses to do a deep dive into their sustainability and get a real handle of the reality of it and get ideas for improvement.”


“It is an independent, external, supportive review of your business to allow you to find out the extent to which you are currently working sustainably and to identify ways to improve this – to minimise your impact on the environment and to maximise the difference you make to the communities in which you operate.”


“It is essential for businesses to have a duty to look at their sustainability, to understand about sustainability. And, if they have time to do it themselves, that’s great, otherwise they need to engage Alex, who genuinely practices what she preaches.”


“I’ve really enjoyed doing SOW and have got a lot out of it, especially when my website goes live, and having completed this Programme will definitely help! “


Here are 2 things to do if sustainability is on your radar for 2024

  1. Download my Checklist and start brainstorming using the four pillars.
  2. Book a discovery call to discuss any questions you may have and to consider working with me, on either the Sustainability Review for 2024 or the SOW Programme.

Remember sustainability is important for every part of a supply chain

  • Do you work for a client who is asking for your sustainability credentials?
  • Are you completing applications, bids, and tenders that have sustainability questions you cannot evidence?
  • Do you want to stand out above the crowd and your industry as you want to be a sustainability leader and do not know where to start?
  • Do your employees ask what your company’s sustainability processes and practices are?
  • Do you want to save money with your sustainable efforts?
  • Do you need to match your sustainable products and services with the way your business is run?

If the answer to any of the above is YES and you need some help please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Phone: 07966 456734


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