What is Social Enterprise?
Social enterprise describes organisations that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment.
There are many shapes and sizes and kinds of social enterprise, but there are some important things that make them different from both conventional businesses and charities.
Social Enterprises do...
- Make money from selling goods and services
- Cover their own costs in the long-term (though, like any business, may need
- help to get started)
- Put at least half of any profits back into making a difference
- Pay reasonable salaries to staff
Social enterprises do not:
- Exist to make profits for shareholders
- Exist to make owners very wealthy
- Rely on volunteering, grants or donations to stay afloat in the long term
If you want to know more about Social Enterprise we would recommend these publications which are all free to download:
Charities and Social Enterprise
Increasingly charities want to trade more, earn some of their own income instead of relying on grants and donations so they can be more sustainable in the future
Charities can usually already do this if the trading activity helps to further their charitable objects. If the income generation is substantial and not related to their objects the charity usually has to set up a trading arm which is a limited company. But that doesn’t mean that the charity itself has become a social enterprise (in a technical, legal sense anyway).
You can read more about this in:
Community Interest Companies
A Community Interest Company, or CIC, is a type of company designed especially for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.
There is information about CICs in Social Enterprise Explained and A Business Planning Guide to Social Enterprise, but if you need more detailed information, we recommend the guidance you can find on the CIC Regulator website
If you want to know more about the different legal forms you can use for your organisation, there’s a really useful Decision Tool on the Get Legal website. Free to use, the decision tool asks you a number of questions about your organisation before signposting you to explanatory notes or to external resources where you can access other documentation.
The tool is based on a series of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ decisions and at each stage, you can go back a step, or back to the start again. There is also a 'tell me more' box that travels with you, providing links to more detailed information in the site that will open in a separate window.
Website: Get Legal
How Can We Help?
All CVS services are available to social enterprises in the Bedford Borough and North Central Bedfordshire area. These include our Funding and Development Advice services and Quality Standards support. Please browse through the relevant pages on our website to find the services and contact details that you need. Alternatively please phone us on 01234 354366 and ask to speak to a member of the Funding and Development Team.
Other Support for Social Enterprise