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Businesses Blog

Are you up to the mark?

17th November 2010

Are you up to the mark?

Social enterprises are ordinary businesses in ordinary towns, but in these extraordinary times; ‘Social Enterprises’ are doing extraordinary things.

Social Enterprises don’t just do business in ‘fluffy’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘yoghurt knitting’, ‘green’ and ‘planet saving’ industries, but in almost every line of industry you can imagine. It’s happening now, check out your local Social Enterprise – you most probably have one!
You may find one, but you probably only found it because you looked. Numbers in the UK are growing and currently stand at around 62,000 but our profiles are still very low. So what’s the fuss? What’s all the excitement around ‘Social Enterprises?’ Apart from the £24bn they contribute to the economy and the 800,000 people they employ – its their ‘Social Ethics’ we encompass

What is a ‘Social Enterprise?’
The official government line states social enterprises as: “businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”
Social Enterprises encompass both ‘non-profits’ which use business models and ‘for-profits’ whose primary purposes are social. They are businesses which offer services and/or create/deliver goods and products like ‘normal’ companies. What makes them a ‘Social Enterprise?’ A Social Enterprise has their social or environmental principles at the very heart of their being and the profits they make are reinvested towards achieving those goals.
The Big Issue is a Social Enterprise, so is Jamie Oliver’s restaurant ‘Fifteen’. That’s the point, they are normal businesses spread right across the UK and they operate in almost every industry in the UK. The point being, they do it differently from a typical business in that their business models are driven by a social and/or environmental undertaking.

Get the mark 

The Social Enterprise Mark is awarded to businesses who meet specific criteria that demonstrate they are working primarily for social or environmental goals, and that 50% of their profits are reinvested towards those goals.
We want as many businesses as possible to be set up as social enterprises, and hope that existing organisations consider how to become social enterprises.

  • Does your company have social and/or environmental aims?
  • Does your company have it’s own constitution and governing body?
  • Are at least 50% of the company profits spent on socially beneficial purposes?
  • Does the company earn at least 50% of its income from trading?*
  • Can your company demonstrate that social/environmental aims are being achieved?
  • If your company ceased trading would remaining assets be distributed for social/environmental purposes?

Are you up to the mark?