Business Support Alliance

tel: 01472 252780

Social Enterprise

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

The term ‘social enterprise’ came about from recognition that in the UK and across the world, there were organisations using the power of business to bring about social and environmental change without a single term to unite them.

If you want to set up a business that has social, charitable or community-based objectives, you can set up as a:

  • limited company
  • charity, or from 2013, a charitable incorporated organisation
  • co-operative
  • community interest company (CIC)
  • sole trader or business partnership

Characteristics of a Social Enterprise:

  1. A social enterprise has explicit social and /or environmental aims benefitting the community and the economy.
  2. Community ownership is a key aspect of a social enterprise. A social enterprise operates under democratic governance ensuring that community needs are met. A social enterprise is not managed or governed by one individual.
  3. A social enterprise, like any other business, needs to have a viable trading concern either through the sale of products or services.
  4. A social enterprise is a business. It needs to make a profit to compete in the market, to ensure continued survival and to invest in its social or environmental aims. The majority of a social enterprise’s profit or surplus is reinvested back into the business to sustain community benefit. It is not for personal profit or gain.


If you are interested in setting up a social enterprise and would like to discuss your ideas with an adviser please give us a call on 01472 252780 or send an e mail to