State of Social Enterprise Survey shows social enterprises are outperforming regular businesses on growth and impact


Initial data from Social Enterprise UK’s State of Social Enterprise Survey 2015 shows a diverse sector exceeding expectations in both growth and impact.

Over half of social enterprises – businesses which trade for social and environmental purposes and reinvest their profits to meet their social mission – have seen an increase in their turnover in the last year. This is being partly driven by innovation, with 59% of organisations having developed new products and services in 2014. More than 50% of businesses in the sector are less than five years old.

On diversity, the sector vastly outperforms regular businesses, with 40% of social enterprises now led by a woman and 11% of leaders from a minority ethnic background. This compares to only 18% and 7% amongst regular small businesses.

The last year saw a slight fall in trading with the general public, but a greater number of social enterprises are trading with both the public and private sectors. More surprisingly for a sector full of small local businesses, 14% of them are exporting their product overseas.

Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, welcomed the findings:

“Social enterprises are transforming the way business is done. What this data shows is that they are continuing to expand, to do good and to change the lives of individuals and communities. When it comes to female and minority ethnic leadership, they are miles ahead of the pack. Of course there are challenges, but from these initial findings the sector is clearly in a strong and healthy position.”

The full State of Social Enterprise Survey 2015 will be published later this year, and is supported by Santander UK.

About the State of Social Enterprise Survey 2015
The State of Social Enterprise Survey is the largest source of knowledge about social enterprises in the UK. It has been run every two years since 2009 and is used by government, academics, sector bodies, and social enterprises themselves to better understand the sector: its size, its characteristics and its barriers to growth. Social Enterprise UK manages the research and has worked with other sector bodies including National Housing Federation, Social Firms UK, UnLtd and Locality to ensure the whole sector is represented.