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What is a Social Enterprise?

WellbeingPosted by Creative Stays Mon, June 05, 2017 00:20:05

Whilst the general principle of a social enterprise is a company that operates in the commercial marketplace utilising business strategies to maximise social impact rather than profit; at present there is no one overall agreed definition.

Some of the current definitions in use are:

Social Enterprise UK
*Has a clear social or environmental mission that is set out in its governing documents
*An independent business earning more than half of its income through trading (or working towards this)
*Controlled or owned in the interests of its social mission
*Reinvests or gives away at least half its profits or surpluses towards its social purpose
*Transparent about how it operates and the impact it has

Social Enterprise Scotland
*A trading business – selling goods and services – but whose primary objective is to achieve social and/or environmental benefit
*Profits are reinvested in the business or in the beneficiary community – and not distributed to private owners, shareholders or investors
*On dissolution, the assets are reinvested in another organisation with similar aims and objectives
*Constituted and managed in an accountable and transparent way – particularly with regard to the community they serve
*Distinct from the public sector and cannot be the subsidiary of a public body

Social Enterprise Ireland
*Social Enterprises are organisations or businesses set up to tackle social, economic or environmental issues
*Driven primarily by social and/or environmental motives, they engage in trading or commercial activities to pursue these objectives and produce social and community gain
*Profits or surpluses generated by the enterprise are reinvested to further their social objectives
*Ownership of the enterprise is within a community, or amongst people with a shared interest
*Social enterprises have a strong job creation focus to help local people and communities
*Social Enterprises are committed to social justice and social inclusion

Social Enterprise Europe
*Business ventures that prioritize their social purpose(s), operate ethically and promote democratic ownership and governance by primary stakeholders

*A social enterprise is a business with social objectives
*Their left-over profits are reinvested for that purpose in the business or the community, instead of raising profit for shareholders and owners
*Social enterprises tackle a wide range of social and environmental issues
*They compete in the marketplace like other businesses, using their business skills to achieve social aims
*Like other businesses, social enterprises aim to sustain their business and make profits
*The difference is what they do with the profits

UK Government
*A business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners

European Commission
*Those for who the social or societal objective of the common good is the reason for the commercial activity, often in the form of a high level of social innovation
*Those where profits are mainly reinvested with a view to achieving this social objective
*Those where the method of organisation or ownership system reflects the enterprise's mission, using democratic or participatory principles or focusing on social justice

European Social Enterprise Law Association
*The organisation must engage in economic activity
*It must pursue an explicit and primary social aim that benefits society
*It must have limits on distribution of profits or assets to prioritise the social aim
*It must be independent from the State or other for-profit organisations
*It must have inclusive governance i.e. characterised by participatory and/or democratic decision-making processes

School for Social Entrepreneurs
*A social enterprise is a business driven by a social or environmental purpose
*As with all businesses, social enterprises compete to deliver goods and services
*The difference is that social purpose is at the very heart of what they do, and the profits they make are reinvested towards achieving that purpose

Business Dictionary
*A type of non-profit business that employs people and earns income in order to help address perceived social or environmental issues

*For example, a social enterprise might provide valuable services to a population in need, or they might perform volunteer or even paid consulting work on environmental cleanup projects.

Collins Online Dictionary
*A business whose main purpose is to improve society-increase sustainability-etc.- rather than making a profit

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