SE Definition

What is Social Enterprise?

Social Enterprises are businesses that provide goods or services in order to make a profit. What sets social enterprise apart from traditional private businesses is that the profit is reinvested to create positive social change, rather than going to shareholders. 

Nearly 9% of the UK small business population are social enterprises, and they operate in almost every sector from catering to recycling; health and social care to creative agencies; community energy to horticulture; and manufacturing to professional business development enterprises – like Selnet!

Social enterprises have:

  • Social Aims: such as job creation, training or the provision of local services. They have ethical values and their profits are principally reinvested to achieve their social aims. Increasingly, social enterprises measure their social impact.

  • Enterprise Orientation: Organisations are directly involved in business activity, supplying goods or services to a market and earning income as a result.

  • Social Ownership: Many social enterprises are also characterised by their social ownership. They are autonomous organisations whose governance and ownership structures are normally based on participation with stakeholder groups (e.g. employees, users, clients, local community groups, social investors) or with trustees or directors who control the enterprise on behalf of a wider group of stakeholders.

Social enterprises are accountable to their stakeholders and the wider community for their social, environmental and economic impact. Profits can be distributed as profit sharing to stakeholders or used for the benefit of the community.

You can find out more about social enterprise on the government’s website.


Social Enterprise in Lancashire

Selnet is Lancashire’s social enterprise Network – click on the About tab for more about us, or go to our Trade Directory for information about our members.

Organisations requesting membership and / or services will be asked to demonstrate that they comply with the characteristics outlined above.