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.
Be inspired by the stories of some leading UK social enterprises.
Confused by social enterprise? Read our FAQs.
THREE MINUTE FILM
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?
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE UK
We are the national body for social enterprise. We represent our members to support and help grow the social enterprise movement. Find out more about what we do. Check out the benefits of being an SEUK member.
We're hiring a Marketing Officer to work in our office in London Bridge. Applications by 21 June 2013. Find out more.
UK SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AWARDS - OPEN FOR ENTRIES
The awards are now in their 15th year. They recognise the high achieving and ground breaking organisations and people in social enterprise. There are new categories this year, plus the opportunity to nominate social enterprise champions - people who are making a significant contribution to society through social enterprise.
Deadline for entries is 6 August 2013. Find more.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IN ACTION - PM TRAINING
PM Training - Delivering solutions for young people
PM Training is a social enterprise which is tackling one of the key challenges society currently faces: youth unemployment. It does this through providing work opportunities to 16-18 year-olds in Staffordshire through apprenticeships, study programmes, vocational training and industry work experience.
PM Training has a long track record of delivery in the county, and its focus remains on giving young people an opportunity in those local communities where it is needed most. In 2012, 1,175 people from Stoke On Trent, Stafford, Leek and Newcastle Under Lyme joined one of PM Training’s programmes, with 262 real apprenticeships being created with a range of local partners and businesses.
As part of the Aspire Group, PM Training also directly helps improve individual homes, neighbourhoods and estates through its Homeworks services. Annually, Homeworks maintains 1000 gardens, paints and decorates 300 properties, and makes 500 environmental improvements – positively affecting the lives of more than 5000 local residents each year, whilst simultaneously creating jobs and training opportunities.
The problem of youth unemployment remains significant: but PM Training’s approach is one that is increasingly recognised by local businesses, local authorities and central government alike as one that works. And one that demonstrates that all young people, no matter where they live, can have an enterprising future.