Video : What is a social enterprise?

You asked, so I’ll answer – What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprises are businesses that have a social or environmental purpose.

Another key thing about a social enterprise is that it is still a business and it needs to generate profits and be sustainable. In order to do this the social enterprise needs to have a product or service that it can trade and make profits from selling.

Social enterprises reinvest the majority of the profits they make back into the business to deliver more of their social or environmental purpose. When we talk about the social or environmental purpose for a social enterprise this is at the heart of what they do and it’s not an add-on like you see sometimes with other businesses.

Another key thing to remember is that social enterprises are a way of doing business and not a particular legal structure. This means you will find lots of different legal structures for social enterprises including sole traders, community interest companies (CICs), charities, companies limited by guarantee, companies limited by share, co-operatives and many more.

There are lots of different definitions for a social enterprise but generally they are expected to generate more than 50% of their income from trading, although initially they may be dependent on start-up funding and grants.

Depending on the definition used for social enterprise there are between 70,000 and 741,000 social enterprises in the UK.  Regardless of the exact number, one thing is for certain, social enterprise is a growth sector.  More people are choosing to set up social enterprises each year.  Why not join the social enterprise revolution?