Thinking about starting a social enterprise?

Benefits of a social enterprise

Social enterprises need to generate revenue for sustainability but they also have equally important social and/or environmental aims. The requirement to manage this 'multiple bottom line' - financial, social and environmental - can result in unique challenges. However, the ability to bring about positive change to people and communities can be enormously satisfying and provide a means of making a living.

One of the benefits of running a social enterprise can be in providing employment for local people. This may include people who have traditionally found it hard to enter the labour market. A social enterprise can be the ideal environment for such people to develop their potential - either as an employee or heading up their own operation. The types of individual who can benefit from running or working in a social enterprise include:

  • the long-term unemployed
  • people looking for a career change
  • people with learning disabilities
  • disabled people
  • people with mental health issues
  • ex-offenders
  • minority ethnic groups
  • women
  • young people - many schools now have pupil-run social enterprises

Some groups of people may find it difficult to work within the limitations of a traditional working environment. Social firms are an example of social enterprise businesses that have been set up to remove these barriers to employment and offer a more flexible approach to work. Find information on employing disadvantaged people in social enterprises on the Social Firms UK website.

If you set up a social enterprise in your local community, you are likely to witness the social benefits first hand. For example, you could run a social enterprise that matches up people in need of flexible employment, such as parents of young children, with elderly or vulnerable people in need of care in the same neighbourhood.

Marketing social enterprises

Social enterprises need to be competitive in any environment in which they operate. Attracting customers is vital to success. Highlighting the social and/or environmental credentials of your service/product, could give you the edge over your competitors.

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