What exactly is a social enterprise? And what is a social entrepreneur? Our glossary will help explain the key terms used in the social enterprise sector.

What is a social entrepreneur?

In its simplest definition, a social entrepreneur is someone who applies entrepreneurial traits and abilities for social benefit.

It is a new term for something that has existed throughout the ages rather than a new phenomenon itself.

A social entrepreneur identifies and implements practical solutions to social problems through innovation, resourcefulness, persistence and pragmatism. They have a clear understanding of their overall goal and the primacy of their social mission, and combine hardheadedness with idealism, choosing whichever models, governance and revenue streams best help them achieve their vision.


What is a social enterprise?

A social enterprise is a business that trades for a social and/or environmental purpose. It will have a clear sense of its ‘social mission’:  which means it will know what difference it is trying to make, who it aims to help, and how it plans to do it.  It will bring in most or all of its income through selling goods or services.  And it will also have clear rules about what it does with its profits, reinvesting these to further the ‘social mission’

Social enterprises come in many shapes and sizes from large national and international businesses to small community based enterprises.  But they all:

  • Are businesses that aim to generate their income by selling goods and services, rather than through grants and donations
  • Are set up to specifically make a difference
  • Reinvest the profits they make in their social mission

Examples of social enterprises include: Mirakle Couriers, Metta Spa, Goonj, Safe Hands 24×7, Janta Meals, Sakha Cabs, Green Cobbler, Super 30, Desi Crew.


What is social impact measurement?  

Social impact measurement is calculating how much of a difference your organisation is making. Measurement of your impact will enable your organisation to improve by identifying areas of strength or weakness. Read this blog post: ‘5 key lessons from our Measuring Social Impact course’


What is social franchising?

Social franchising is the process of using franchising to scale social impact. Social enterprises can be franchises just like a commercial business, however instead of scaling to increase profits they use a franchise model to achieve greater social impact.


What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility – commonly referred to as CSR- is the social activities a corporate organisation chooses to engage in. CSR encompasses financial donations, staff volunteering and pro-bono support. Read more about how social enterprises can work with corporates.


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