Social Enterprise Made Simple: About Social Enterprise

by Allana Grant

7 months ago

What sets social enterprises apart from traditional businesses? With our new series of blogs, ‘Social Enterprise Made Simple’, we aim to educate on all things social enterprise!

About Social Enterprise

Today, social enterprise is a recognised global movement; yet there is currently no single legal definition for the term. It is known in many different guises around the world and approaches to it vary, depending on a country’s traditions and core values.

Here in Scotland the term social enterprise refers to a way of doing business that has ethics and sustainability at the very heart of how it functions. Organisations that are classed as social enterprises are committed to using their creative and entrepreneurial skills to deliver a specific social or environmental mission within the communities where they operate.

As is the case with any private sector business, profit margins are paramount; however, their mission to change society for the better is what drives them ultimately. 100% of any profits they make are reinvested into the company with the sole purpose of taking a step closer to achieving their end goal.

A patchwork of social enterprises in Scotland

In spite of challenging political and economic times, our social enterprise sector in Scotland is flourishing. In recent months, CEIS, the UK’s largest social enterprise support agency, published its (Social Enterprise in Scotland: 2017 Census) results. The report, an in depth account of activity in the sector, showed that the number of social enterprises currently in operation has risen to an estimated 5,600. This is an 8% increase over the last two years; representing a contribution of around £2 billion GVA each year to our inclusive economic growth.

Scotland’s social enterprise sector really is a veritable patchwork: comprising a diverse range of business models, from C.I.C’s, to co-operatives, to housing associations; all with their own traditions and motivations. Located the length and breadth of the country, they work to tackle urgent issues such as poverty, homelessness, inequality, ill health, substandard education and the environment.