Social enterprises are a crucial part of the UK and its economy, they are and have been the driving force for positive social and environmental good, changing and adapting with the needs of each generation. In this blog we’ll explore how these ventures are a power for good, for both our communities and economy.

What is social enterprise?

What are we talking about when we say “social enterprise”? In this
context, we mean a commercial venture that is governed by a specific social or environmental objective, before profits; putting purpose at the
heart of its decision making. Whether it’s a community kitchen, a
company making shoes from recycled materials or even a chippy putting
some of its turnover towards supporting the local community, social
enterprises are everywhere there is a need.

Purpose over profit?
When you think of a social enterprise, do you imagine an organisation
which is struggling to turn a profit because it’s weighed down by the
additional pressure of a social goal? You wouldn’t be alone in that
assumption, but data reveals that this stereotype is far from the reality.
In our most recent publication, “The Power of Social Enterprise”, we
found that 93.2% of social enterprises turned a profit, compared to 6.2%
of traditional SME employers. The same report found social enterprises
outperformed standard SMEs in innovative processes, products and
services, and had greater growth ambitions. Their contribution to the
national economy is nothing to be sniffed at, the UK’s 471,000 social
enterprises are responsible for 3% of the county’s GDP as well as 5% of total employment.

The power of people

One thing you probably have right about social enterprises is that they
prioritise people. Responsible for employing 1.44 million individuals
across the UK, over a quarter of social enterprises say that creating
employment is one of their key objectives. 79% employ staff from the
local area, which is vital when you consider social enterprises are more
than twice as likely as standard SMEs to operate in deprived areas.
They also outperform SMEs in having women and BAME team members
in leadership roles, generally have a more equitable wage structures and
80% of social enterprises pay their employees a living wage.

In addition to social enterprises punching above their weight when it
comes to employment and more likely to turn a profit while doing so than
traditional SMEs, the benefits of supporting social enterprise aren’t
limited to economic development. They are leading as role models,
highlighting the power businesses have to create a positive impact in our
communities, in a financially sustainable way.

The picture shows PNE Group Chief Executive Tracey Moore presenting the PNE sponsored Biggest Social Impact Award at the If We Can You Can Challenge.

Billie Jenkins – PNE Group