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What is a Social Enterprise?

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Greetings and welcome to this article on “what is a social enterprise.” In this article I will aim to explain the history and meaning of a Social Enterprise. I have compiled and researched a few definitions from different source on the web. I hope by the end you will come out with adequate knowledge and a strong understanding of the topic “what is a social enterprise”.

What is a Social Enterprise? Definitions and Meanings

A social enterprise or social business is defined as a business with specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose. Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment, and the profits are principally used to fund social programs.

A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being. This may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for co-owners


In simple terms, a social enterprise can be defined as a business that ploughs its profits back into a strong social or environmental mission

Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is addressing a social or environmental challenge rather than creating profit for owners or shareholders. They bring together the entrepreneurial skills of the private sector and the values of public service. They deliver positive social impact through their means (i.e. how they conduct their work) and ends (i.e. what they achieve).
What is a Social Enterprise

About Social Enterprises

Social Enterprises are different from other businesses, companies and organisations as they combine the elements of “Profit Making” and “Social Goals”. Social enterprises have business, environmental and social goals. As a result their Social aims and goals are embedded in their objectives.

Thr primary focus of social enterprises is to promote social change. The business is built around this social goals therefore a certain percentage of the income, funding and profits and reinvested into the business to further promote the social goals

History of Social Enterprises

The idea of a social enterprise as a distinct concept first developed in the late 1970s in the UK as an alternative commercial organisational model to private businesses, co-operatives and public enterprise.

At that time, the idea and concept was based on 5 main principles:

Types of Social Enterprises

Community Organisations –

These are types of organisations which primarily focuses on building the communiyt and are membership based. Examples include housing associations, credit unions, community centres, pubs and shops, associations, housing associations and football clubs

NGO’s and Charities

This types of organisations provide business services and the proifts are generally used to provide wages and salaries to for individuas who provide free services to specific groups of people or to further the social or environmental aims of the organisation.

Financial Instittutions

This includes organisations such as credit unions, cooperative banks and revolving loan funds. They are classified as savings and loans organisations

Trading Enterprises

This includes Worker/employee-owned trading enterprises, co-operatives, and collectives. They can range from large enterprises to medium sized enterprises

How To Create a Successful Social Enterprise

Examples of Social Enterprises

Ariyel Academy

734 Coffee

Grassroots Busines Funds

Books to Prisoners

Orangi Pilot Project


Housing Works

LSTN Sound Co.

Institute for OneWorld Health

Love Your Melon

One Acre Fund

Ben & Jerry’s

Partners in Health

Uncommon Goods


Better World Books


Videos on Social Enterprises

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