Social enterprises are becoming an increasingly popular business model and some such as Café Direct and the fifteen restaurant chain run by Jamie Oliver enjoy high profile success. But what makes today’s entrepreneurs want to start such a Social Enterprise?


Well, social enterprises are commercial organisations that have specific objectives that benefit their local community’s and the environment. They break apart conventional business models to find new, more sustainable ways of improving the world around them, whether it’s new products, the services they deliver, regenerating local communities or providing employment for people furthest away from the labour market. Socials Enterprises exist in many sectors such as consumer goods, healthcare, creative agencies, restaurants and much more; well-known examples are the Big Issue, Divine Chocolate and the Eden Project. There are over 80,000 enterprises throughout the U.K, contributing over £24 billion to the economy and employing nearly 1 million people. Like ‘traditional businesses’ they aim to make a profit, however what they do with their profit sets them apart – reinvesting or donating them to help their community.

Many companies have social objectives, but social enterprises are distinctive because their social or environmental purpose is central to what they do. Selling goods, services, or both, social enterprises create employment and by reinvesting/donating their profits back into their business and community, this allows them to tackle social problems, provide individuals who are struggling with training and employment opportunities, support communities and help the environmental causes.

Social Enterprises have several distinguishing features which were agreed by the Social Enterprise Sector when the Social Enterprise Mark was first created:

  • Trading for social/environmental purposes, as articulated in governing documents
  • Committed to reinvesting principal proportion of profits and income towards achieving social/environmental objectives, taking priority over maximising profits for shareholders
  • Earning at least 50% of income from trading
  • Demonstrating that social/environmental objectives are being achieved
  • Independently owned/controlled

Interested in starting your own Social Enterprise or business? The South East Midlands Start Up Programme is for you! The project provides advice and support for entrepreneurs and self-employment, with a focus on increasing the number of start-ups, including social enterprises. Our support includes the provision of one-to-one advice, masterclasses, webinars, grants and incubation facilities.

If you would like to register onto the programme or find out more information about the South East Midlands Start-up Programme (SEMSUP), contact us on 01604 212696 or email us at: SUP@northamptonshiregrowthhub.co.uk


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