Social Enterprise explained


Action Hampshire is one of the delivery partners for the Inspiring Enterprise programme. Our main focus is on supporting people to start up their own social enterprise.

With the number of social enterprises increasing rapidly in the UK, the chances are that you will have heard the phrase and may well have bought a product or service from a social enterprise, whether you realised it or not.

However, at Action Hampshire we regularly come across people who don’t quite understand what a social enterprise is.

First and foremost, a social enterprise is a business and therefore needs to make money. It shouldn’t rely on external funding (for example, grants or donations) to operate on an ongoing basis, like a charity might. The key difference between a conventional business and a social enterprise is how the profits are used.

Social Enterprise UK defines social enterprises as businesses that:

  • Have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents
  • Generate the majority of their income through trade
  • Reinvest the majority of their profits
  • Are autonomous of the state
  • Are majority controlled in the interests of the social mission
  • Are accountable and transparent.

Social enterprises can also be of any size.

At one end of the scale there are well known social enterprises such as Divine Chocolate, The Big Issue and the rapidly growing Who Gives a Crap. But through the Inspiring Enterprise programme Action Hampshire is helping people to see that even the smallest enterprises can combine income generation with social impact.

Here are a few examples of social enterprises that Action Hampshire is supporting people to develop, through Inspiring Enterprise:

  • A social housing cooperative
  • Creative mental well being workshops for young people
  • Producing short videos for families who have a family member with dementia
  • A handyman business offering affordable rates to elderly people who are on low incomes.

If you are inspired by the idea of starting a social enterprise, live in Hampshire and fit the Inspiring Enterprise criteria, then call or email the Inspiring Enterprise team at Action Hampshire to find out about all the support you can receive on your journey to becoming a social entrepreneur.

Phone Action Hampshire on 01962 854971 or email Alison Bridge