What is a Social Enterprise?

We all know what a charity is and we all know what a business is. A charity’s bottom line is to bring some kind of benefit to a group of people who could use the help through the money or service of others. A business’ bottom line is to earn a profit for the investors by bringing a product or service to market. But what happens when you mix the two? You get a social enterprise, a mix of the best parts of a charity and a business.

A social enterprise is a business that wants to help people more than anything else. Like a business, a social enterprise seeks to bring a product or service to market but does so in order to provide sustainable employment to its workers and suppliers, not to benefit the investors. It’s about providing an opportunity for employment to those who need it but have none.

A social enterprise is a charity that seeks to be self-sustaining. Like a charity, a social enterprise helps people in need but in a way that is both sustainable and brings self-worth. It’s not about giving money away. It’s about developing a product or service that provides sustainable employment and fair wages in a safe workplace. It’s about recognizing the value of a person and the skills they have to offer.

This is a tricky balance but one that is desperately needed if there is to be meaningful and lasting change in a community.