What is Social Enterprise?

The idea behind social enterprise is simple.

Whereas for some businesses, owner profits and shareholder value are the top priorities, for social enterprises, long-term benefits to employees, consumers and the local community are the major consideration.

As well as their social aims, they are distinguished by their ownership and management structure, and by the way they reinvest profits in the business or the community.

There has recently been an explosion of interest in their potential contribution to a strong, stable and socially inclusive UK economy, resulting in the publication of the Government's landmark paper: 'Social Enterprise: a strategy for success.'

Social enterprises come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from innovative enterprises delivering Sports initiatives, Health and Care packages, community-owned village, large development trusts to Jamie Oliver´s Fifteen restaurant and The Big Issue.

There are at least 55,000 social enterprises like these across the UK.

They operate under many different legal forms, including community interest companies, industrial and provident societies and companies limited by guarantee, among others.

As a Community or Social Enterprise we can:

  • provide a means for individuals and communities to improve their local neighbourhoods
  • develop the skills and talents of local people
  • bring excluded groups into the labour market
  • create wealth and jobs
  • deliver value-for-money services in a wide range of sectors
  • promote active citizenship
  • provide innovative solutions to local needs

Essentially, we can use business solutions to achieve public good.

In an age of diminishing grant availability and a changing public sector, Community and Social Enterprise has an increasingly significant role to play in the communities they serve.

Enterprises have a key role to play in improving services, creating jobs, enriching local economies, and unleashing entrepreneurial talent, in Doncaster.

They can challenge and help government to improve the way they design and deliver public services. They bring innovative ideas and a `can-do´ attitude and can work in some of the community groups that government finds it hardest to reach. At the same time they raise standards for ethical business and corporate social responsibility.

The Government's work to promote the role of social enterprise in the economy and society was mapped out in its 2006 strategy, the Social enterprise action plan: scaling new heights.


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