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BizMums – a Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are a growing, worldwide movement of businesses that exist to change the world for the better. A social enterprise is a business that trades to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. This might sound like charity work, but social enterprises are businesses. They make and do things that earn money and make profits like any business.

It is how they work and what they do with their profits that is different:

  • working to make a bigger difference
  • reinvesting the profits they make to do more good.

They do this in lots of different ways:

  • creating jobs for people who would otherwise be left out;
  • reinvesting profits in community projects;
  • protecting the environment,
  • providing vital services for people who might not get them otherwise.

It’s this combination of doing business and doing good that makes social enterprise one of the most exciting and fast-growing movements in this country and across the world.

There are some very large social enterprises and ones that have been in existence for years – for example The Co-operative Group. Many people think that social enterprise is how business will be done in the future: working for people and the planet, not just profit.

A social enterprise will also have a clear sense of its ‘social mission’, which means it will know what difference it is trying to make, who it aims to help, and how it’s going to go about it.

A social enterprise does:

  • Make its money from selling goods and services
  • Cover its own costs in the long-term (though like any business, it may need help to get started)
  • Put at least half of any profits back into making a difference
  • Pay reasonable salaries to its staff

A social enterprise does NOT:

  • Exist to make profits for shareholders
  • Exist to make its owners very wealthy
  • Rely on volunteering, grants or donations to stay afloat in the long-term (though again, it may need this sort of help to get started)

More about social enterprises

> Frequently asked questions
> Social enterprises explained (PDF)