Social Enterprise

Social Enterprises are businesses with social causes at their hearts; they exist to bring about social change – think The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, Divine Chocolate, the Eden Project.  These organisations apply commercial strategies and come in many different forms: some are for-profit although the majority are non-profit; some have a cooperative structure, whilst others opt for a limited company or community interest company (CIC). Some social enterprises are registered charities too.

We have plenty of local, less high-profile examples too.

Supply Shack is an office supplies company with a difference.
As a social enterprise they choose to give half of their profits to charity. Each year customers use Facebook to vote for which cause should receive the following year’s donation. Not only that, they have strict environmental policies and practices that ensure their logistics operations run smoothly and with limited effect on the environment.

WSX Enterprise works with charities and established social enterprises to help new social enterprises start up and grow.

Social enterprise programmes

Driving Urban Enterprise
A coordinated series of practical (and free) workshop activities and events for those considering self-employment or in the early stages of business (particularly those who are unemployed or face barriers to employment), as well as established businesses that want to grow. More

Dorset Growth Hub
A business programme for businesses in the Dorset area that want to grow through investment, innovation and internationalisation. The Hub also awards grants and vouchers to new and existing businesses with the potential for growth. More

Hampshire School for Social Entrepreneurs
These action learning courses equip social entrepreneurs for business growth and professional development through group learning and mentoring sessions. More

Social Enterprise Link
This aims to help start-up and established social enterprises, cooperatives and mutual societies to develop a fourth sector, take greater social and environmental responsibility and distribute profits more charitably. More

Shedlight Together
A co-working space in Southampton for social entrepreneurs and like-minded others to work together.  Their mantra is ‘good will, good vibes, good business’ and they’re keen to help the sector grow through the sharing of good practice, networking and collaboration.  More

Social Enterprise UK
The national body for social enterprise, Social Enterprise UK supports the social enterprise movement through campaigning and raising the profile of the sector, enable networking and carrying out research to inform policy making. More

The Social Enterprise Mark
This is the UK certification authority for social enterprise. The mark independently proves when a business or organisation puts profits towards social or environmental good. It’s not compulsory for social enterprises to pay for the mark, but it does help people to recognise that the business prioritises the social and environmental mission.  More