Essentially a Social Enterprise is involved in enterprising activities:
- combining the need to be a successful business with primarily social aims.
- having social ownership and democratic principles at its core.
Social Enterprises are distinguished by their participatory ownership and management structure and by the way surpluses are reinvested in the business or the community. They emphasise the long-term benefits for employees, consumers and the community. Social enterprise is increasingly recognised as part of an important third sector, distinct from the public and private sectors.
Characteristics of a Social Enterprise
- Social Purpose
- Engaging in Trade
- No private profit distribution
- Assets held for community benefit
The social enterprise sector is diverse and includes amongst others Co-operatives, Community Enterprises, Development Trusts, Credit Unions, Social Firms, Housing Associations and Football Supporters Trusts.
As a result of this diversity a wide variety of legal structures are used by Social Enterprises including incorporation as a company limited by guarantee, limited partnerships and community interest companies.
Social Enterprises source fair trade goods and encourage ethical shopping