Saturday, 29 November 2014

Definition of Social Enterprise

Whilst at the Community Event at the Ambleside campus today we were asked to define 'social enterprise'.

In answering this seemingly 'easy question' we found ourselves debating that Social Enterprise is differently defined across international contexts; changes in definition appear to be dependent upon the diversity in funding policies to non-profit making organisations within different countries. Definitions have been developed by researchers, some of whom are members of EMES, and by governments. (EMES is a research network of established university research centres and individual researchers whose goal has been to gradually build up a corpus of theoretical and empirical knowledge, pluralistic in disciplines and methodologies, around "SE" concepts: social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, social economy and solidarity economy. This began as solely European in nature but is becoming more cross cultural; membership has grown to include researchers in Chile, Russia, Canada, the USA and SEA).

Despite the range of definitions, across publications and research of social enterprises there appears to be some agreement that 'such organisations are at core non-profit making, dependent upon combinations of earned income from trading and various forms of funding to maintain sustainability, are innovative in nature and often entrepreneurial in spirit, and above all are driven by social objectives'.

Our definition is that 'social enterprises are organisations who exist to make a profit which is re-invested into improving communities'. Communities may be geographically based or could be defined in terms of their shared need.

Examples of social enterprises can be found in many communities:   


At the London Early Year’s Foundation (LEYF) the ambition is to create a better future for London’s children by providing high quality community nurseries in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods across the city


In 2011, GiveMeTap was set up. The idea is simple, and changes so many lives. Every stainless steel GiveMeTap bottle you buy funds water projects in Africa and gives you free water refills on the go from over 600 of our partner cafes and shops. We like to think of this as 'Water for you. Water for Everyone'.
As well as creating a positive social impact in the developing world, with 36,000 bottles in circulation, GiveMeTap are reducing the consumption of bottled water

FROM BABIES WITH LOVE illustrates how social enterprises are developed, through spirit, where an entrepreneurial idea can come from personal experience, ethos and ethical values:

Why we began
When I had my son, watching children’s charities’ adverts and reading articles about the hardship children face all around the world, took on new depth of meaning. The tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat made me think harder about how to make a difference. Becoming a parent drove me to do more than feel sorry for these children.
I asked the question, why aren’t charities selling baby clothes and using the profit to fund their work? I couldn’t find a good answer, so I decided to do it myself.
I've always been interested in the role of social enterprise and corporate social responsibility. I thought to myself, if I can buy a beautiful baby product, for great value, with great customer service, plus the profit goes to babies in need (rather than a private owner), why would I buy it anywhere else? The answer is I wouldn’t!
So I set up from babies with love to offer more; beautiful baby clothes plus a heart warming feeling knowing that your purchase is helping other, less fortunate babies, have the fair start in life they deserve.
I hope you enjoy your purchases and the wonderful stories about the difference you are making!

Our promise are not an ordinary company; they are a social enterprise.  They promise to give 100% of profit to charity. Read more about our values, why organic is best and how we minimise our negative environmental impact."

Club Soda

Club Soda has been created to give people the support they need whether they want to cut back on their drinking or to stop all together. The company organises events for people who want to socialise without the expectation to drink, and is working on creating an online service to support its members.

BSc (Hons) Social Enterprise Leadership

The vision of BSc (Hons) Social Enterprise Leadership is to capacity-build this entrepreneurial charitable and  voluntary sector in the years to come. The programme is being designed to provide participants with the skills and attributes to become the future leaders of social enterprise organisations. Its mission is to identify young adults who are currently committed to working or volunteering in the social enterprise sector providing a seamless combination of personal development experiences, coaching and mentoring support, training and educational contexts in which they can develop their leadership qualities in terms of self, teams and groups and the workplace.
The programme is unique in that it allows students to gain work based learning from their current experiences for up to 10 + hours per week; the delivery model is distinctive model as it allows students to have a bespoke timetable that fits with the HEFCE criteria of FT status and yet be employed.

For more information on this dynamic and innovative undergraduate award please go to:

Hear about this award and what  current students think about it:

To apply for this course please go to UCAS and use course code: S356

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