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What is a social enterprise?



If you are reading this then chances are that you are interested in finding more about social enterprises, maybe building your own and we are extremely happy to see that.

We might know that the social economy is made up of social enterprises, charities, cooperatives and self-help initiatives that produce and distribute goods and services.

The organisations included as part of the social economy hold a social objective as their main purpose rather than one of private profit and are independent of the public sector. Social organisations will often make a profit to exist and thrive, like any other business. The difference is what they do with that.

But what is a social enterprise?

There are many definitions of a social enterprise, but at the core of it stands the idea of doing good through business. This makes the social enterprise sector one of the most exciting and fast-growing sectors in the UK and internationally.

The common characteristics of a social enterprise are:

· It is an organisation that trades with the primary aim of tackling social needs by improving communities, people’s life chances and/or our environment; it has a clear sense of its mission and how its activity addresses those needs.

· It differs from a straightforward charity because it is run as a business, generating revenue from trade and making profits which in part, or full, are reinvested to generate greater social benefit.

· It places an emphasis on profit optimisation as opposed to profit maximisation (unlike conventional businesses), encouraging sustainable, and socially impactful growth in the long-term.

ClearlySo has published a Guide for the Ambitious Social Entrepreneur in collaboration with the City of London and is used as a reference in this article. You can find valuable information about the social sector and what it takes to become a social entrepreneur.

Happy reading and let us know if you need help with your business or have questions in general.


We support businesses with a social or environmental mission by providing excellent financial consultancy and accountancy services. Through our accountancy practice, management consultancy, training and mentoring, we help the social economy to thrive.#addingvalue #socialenterprise




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