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Business support and advice

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprises trade goods and services in the open market, just as economic-profit driven businesses do. However, any surpluses or profits are reinvested into the business to further the social aims of the enterprise, rather than going to shareholders. So, as well as applying commercial strategies to maximise business success, social enterprises are committed to maximising the social impact of their activities. Therefore, when they profit, society also profits.

There is no one legal structure that a business must have in order to define themselves as a social enterprise. Social enterprises can be community enterprises, credit unions, trading arms of charities, employee-owned businesses, co-operatives, development trusts, housing associations, social firms and leisure trusts. The UK Government has produced a useful guide to legal structures for social enterprises, which you can find here.

There are many organisations that offer funding and support to social enterprises – some of these are listed below, divided into local and national organisations. If you have identified a social issue in your community, or have an idea for a social enterprise, then you can get in touch with these agencies for advice and support.

Local
Sweda
iSE

National

UnLtd
Social Enterprise UK
Inspire2Enterprise

If you’re looking to procure services, and are keen to engage with social enterprises, there is a useful directory that can be used to search for products and services.