Someone very close to me has been part of a brand new business that is a social enterprise. So as something that’s not usually written about, I thought I’d write about it!
Social enterprises are special. They are also one of the fastest growing business sectors in the UK. There are many definitions, but in a nutshell, a successful social enterprise trades profitably for the benefit of many, not just the owners. Here are ten things that make social enterprises special.
Passion – they are usually started by people wishing to bring about lasting social change. Their passion and desire to do good gives the enterprise determination and strength.
Access to funding – set up a social enterprise and you can seek funding from some grant-making trusts as well as from the bank. You have more flexibility.
Transparency – if formal registered as a ‘community interest company’ with UK Companies House then you are committed to retaining profits rather than taking them out.
Customer and client appeal – if you match the service offered by a global brand of, say, a coffee shop then customers in general will prefer to drink coffee in your cafe as a social enterprise.
More sustainable – you have the flexibility to trade, pay directors, and more. You can be more commercial than a charity and that makes your enterprise more sustainable.
Bridge the gap – a charity and ‘for profit’ business can set up a jointly owned social enterprise, pooling skills and sharing the return. It is a unique opportunity.
More motivated staff – in general, people who choose to work for a social enterprise because they share the values. Everyone sees it as more than just a job.
Less competition – there are fewer social enterprises and they are different from ‘for profit’ businesses. Because you are different, you encounter ‘less’ market competition.
You can reward yourself – charity rules can make it difficult to reward yourself. Set up a social enterprise and the rules allow you to pay salaries and dividends.
Be green – because you are not just about making money, it’s easier to follow environmental practices. You can set up a great example for others to follow.
Still not sure what a social enterprise is? Here’s a great example…
‘Charles’ is a growing chain of Juice and Smoothie bars. Owners Greg and Charlotte set up a jointly owned social enterprise with a mental health charity in a city where they had no outlets. The charity had a capital grant to establish a cafe where their clients, recovering from mental health issues, could gain valuable work experience.
By working together, ‘Charlies’ was able to open a new outlet without borrowing money and the charity gets the employment opportunities it was seeking. Both are able to bring their very different skills and strengths to the joint venture.
And by being a social enterprise has also encouraged more customers to use the outlet because the local community buys into what the business is doing for the local community. Everyone is a winner.
For T & J, wishing you all the luck in the world x www.accessgeneration.co.uk