This will be the first in a series talking about social enterprises. If anyone has anything to add or would like to write about their own experiences with social enterprises then do get in touch.
Social enterprises are first and foremost a business; it has to generate a profit in order to survive. However it is different to a traditional enterprise as it has at its heart a social aim to achieve. This means that the activity must lead to a benefit for the/a community.
Where public limited companies have shareholders who claim a personal dividend on the investment, a social enterprise has the community of shareholders i.e. the profits from such an enterprise cannot be claimed by the individual director but must be either invested in the socially beneficial activity already being undertaken into the community.
A social enterprise located in what is known as the third sector, straddles the social benefits of the public sector with the efficiency of the private sector. This can lead to a larger multiple effect of original investment thus creating larger ‘dividends’ for the community.
Social Enterprises also have specific local knowledge which national organisations do not. This opens up the opportunity for a public/third sector partnership.
This will also become apparent with the future decentralisation of the state and an ideological shift towards localism. With local authorities controlling a larger budget [due to the closing down of central government Quangos], a need for local knowledge/expertise will increase.
They are also present in developing countries in a slightly different guise; but the core principles are the same. The future posts will discuss these topics in more detail.
“The future’s bright, the future’s local”