What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental and human justice agendas.

social enterprises

Characteristics of SOCIAL ENTERPRISES

  • 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

If you want to set up a social enterprise that has social, charitable or community-based objectives, you can set up as a:

  1. limited company
  2. charity
  3. co-operative
  4. industrial and provident society
  5. community interest company (CIC) or Cooperatives
  6. sole trader or business partnership

Benefits of Social Enterprises

Social enterprises produce higher social returns on investment than other models.

On one hand, they produce direct, measurable public benefits. A classic employment-focused social enterprise, for example, might serve at least four public aims:

  • Fiscal responsibility: It reduces the myriad costs of public supports for people facing barriers, by providing a pathway to economic self-sufficiency for those it employs.
  • Public safety: It makes the community in which it operates safer, by disrupting cycles of poverty, crime, incarceration, chemical dependency and homelessness.
  • Economic opportunity: It improves our pool of human capital and creates jobs in communities in need of economic renewal.
  • Social justice: It gives a chance to those most in need.

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Further Reading

Social Enterprise



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