Social Enterprise

This guest blog is brought to you by Janet Wilkinson from Three Times Three Consulting – http://threetimesthree.co.uk/ 

A social enterprise is the type of organisation that you’ll recognise as having existed for as long as community based businesses have been around.  In my experience it is only within the last 5-10 years that the term has become more popularly used, clearly defined and recognised.

Social enterprises are typically defined as businesses with a social purpose.  They are run as profit generating entities where people are employed and are paid regular salaries related to the environment in which they work.  Instead of the profits the business generates being split between shareholders of the enterprise, they are ploughed back into development of the social or community purpose of the business or are used to support the activities of a directly related charity. Many charities have a social enterprise arm as the two sources of income rely upon different markets – sales of goods or services and customers being the differentiating factor for a social enterprise compared with the donations and fundraising associated with a charity.

The half-day workshop I am facilitating on 6th November will cover a broad range of practical aspects of social enterprise.  In the first part we’ll consider what makes a range of established social enterprises successful (including two run by researchers) and in the second part the subject matter covers things you need to consider in starting up your own social enterprise either on your own or with others.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about it three good starting points would be:

Background reading:

www. socialenterprise.org.uk and their pdf guide to social enterprise http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/uploads/editor/files/Publications/Social_Enterprise_Explained.pdf

Relationship to research:

Dr Paul Spencer at UWE is a passionate and involved advocate of social enterprise and he has interesting blog posts on the subject on The Digitally Connected Researcher: http://thedigitaldoctorate.com/2013/01/11/socially-innovative-researcher/

General ‘how to’ guide

The Social Enterprise Handbook: How to Start, Build and Run a business that Improves the World by Rupert Schofield is a straightforward and helpful read on the practicalities of getting a social enterprise going.

Janet will be facilitating a Social Enterprise course as part of the IAD’s Business and Enterprise Training on 6th November.  For more information visit: www.ed.ac.uk/iad/enterprise

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