WHAT ARE SOCIAL ENTERPRISES?
Have you ever bought the Big Issue? Read it over a bar of Divine chocolate? Watched Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen? Visited the Eden Project? Shopped at the Co-op?
Well, then you already know a bit about social enterprises: businesses that are changing the world for the better.
Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community. And so when they profit, society profits. Scroll down if you want to get technical.
Social enterprises are in our communities and on our high streets – from coffee shops and cinemas, to pubs and leisure centres, banks and bus companies. Read about some leading social enterprises.
Read our FAQs on social enterprise.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE UK
We are the national body for social enterprise. We represent our members to support and help grow the social enterprise movement.
UK SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AWARDS
The awards are now in their 15th year. They recognise the high achievers and ground breakers in social enterprise as well as those supporting the sector. At the 2012 awards ceremony television presenter and comedian Sue Perkins took to the stage to entertain guests and to present the winners with their trophies. Find out more.
Sign up to our newsletter to be kept informed about the 2013 awards. The categories will be announced and the competition open for entries soon.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IN ACTION
Take a look at the short film below for a glimpse of social enterprises in action. It features social enterprises Stour Space, The People's Supermarket and Fifteen.
WHAT MAKES A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE?
The term ‘social enterprise’ came about from recognition that in the UK and across the world, there were organisations using the power of business to bring about social and environmental change without a single term to unite them.
Since the term started being more widely used in the mid 1990s, there has been a lot of discussion and sometimes confusion about what social enterprise is.
At Social Enterprise UK we feel we must be clear but pragmatic when it comes to defining social enterprise. Here are what we believe are the characteristics of a social enterprise.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISES SHOULD:
- Have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents
- Generate the majority of their income through trade
- Reinvest the majority of their profits
- Be autonomous of state
- Be majority controlled in the interests of the social mission
- Be accountable and transparent
Read more about this in the short paper What makes a social enterprise a social enterprise?
Become of a member of SEUK to receive our Social Enterprise or Social Enterprise supporter accreditation badge.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Social Enterprise Explained - a quick & easy to read guide
Fightback Britain - the latest national survey on the social enterprise sector
Frequently Asked Questions - a good starting point if you're new to social enterprise