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What is Social Enterprise?

Social enterprise is about using business methods for good causes. A social enterprise is a community business which does not distribute profits/surpluses to individuals and instead directs them to further their social aims.

For example, a social enterprise may be established to provide services like a village shop where they would not be commercially viable if run privately for profit, but would be viable if run with help from volunteers and only aiming to make enough profit as is needed to keep the business sustainable, rather than provide large dividends to shareholders.

Communities can be geographical or of common interest, such as groups with disabilities, young people or older people.

To be a social enterprise the organisation must:

  • be a trading business aspiring to financial independence
  • have social and/or environmental benefit as its primary objective
  • be ‘asset locked’ in that its constitution requires that its profits are reinvested in the organisation or in the beneficiary community and that on dissolution its assets are transferred to another asset locked organisation,
  • not be a public body or the subsidiary of a public authority​