What exactly is a social enterprise? And what is a social entrepreneur? Our glossary will help explain the key terms used in the social enterprise sector.

What is a social entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is an individual who works in an entrepreneurial manner for public or social benefit, rather than just to make money. Social entrepreneurs may work in ethical businesses in the private sector, governmental or public bodies, or the nonprofit and community sector.

There is no template for social entrepreneurs; they employ a diverse range of approaches and are people of different ages, backgrounds, gender, interests, and expertise. What they share are entrepreneurial skills and allegiance to a social mission or purpose.

At the SSE we work with social entrepreneurs from all sectors, not just those starting social enterprises.

What is a social enterprise?

A social enterprise is a business driven by a social or environmental purpose. As with all businesses, social enterprises compete to deliver goods and services. The difference is that social purpose is at the very heart of what they do, and the profits they make are reinvested towards achieving that purpose.

Well-known examples of social enterprises include The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen, and the fair-trade chocolate company Divine Chocolate.

This presentation gives a simple explanation:

What is social investment?

Social investment is the use of repayable finance to achieve a social as well as a financial return. Our Unlocking Social Investment workshop will help you get to grips with the options available to your organisation.

What is social franchising?

Social franchising is the process of using franchising to scale social impact. Social enterprises can be franchises just like a commercial business, however instead of scaling to increase profits they use a franchise model to achieve greater social impact.

What is social impact measurement?  

Social impact measurement is calculating how much of a difference your organisation is making. Measurement of your impact will enable your organisation to improve by identifying areas of strength or weakness. Read this blog post: ‘5 key lessons from our Measuring Social Impact course’

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility – commonly referred to as CSR- is the social activities a corporate organisation chooses to engage in. CSR encompasses financial donations, staff volunteering and pro-bono support. Read more about how social enterprises can work with corporates.