Social enterprises are independent businesses that exist to deliver a specific social and/or environmental mission. This could be employing homeless people, recycling waste or something similar. They aim to make profit like any other business, but invest 100% of it in their social purpose. Social enterprises in Scotland are "asset locked" (all property, money etc. can only be used for a social mission). They're a more ethical and sustainable way of doing business. Social enterprises are not charities that get most income from grants/donations and they're not a business simply behaving ethically or an arms-length company of a public body.
Diverse examples include: The Big Issue, The Wise Group, Social Bite, Divine Chocolate, Cornerstone, Kibble Education and Care, media co-op, Glasgow Housing Association, Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, Link Group Ltd, the Eden Project, Capital Credit Union, The Grameen Foundation, Mondragon Corporation in the Basque Country and the Homeless World Cup.
No. All social enterprises aim to make profit, just like any other business. The only difference is that they invest 100% of profit into a social and/or environmental mission.
Sometimes different phrases are used but for clarity we use the specific term "social enterprise". With no legal definition this helps distinguish authentic social enterprises. A social firm is a specific type of social enterprise that helps people with disabilities or other similar challenges. We also use "more-than-profit" and support the Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise in Scotland.
We're a relatively small part of the wider economy but growing. The last estimate of the number in Scotland is 3500, though we believe this figure is much higher. See Scale as well as Substance - Social Enterprise in Glasgow and the more recent Scotland-wide Mapping Social Enterprise in Scotland. A first full, comprehensive mapping exercise will be completed in 2015. There are also local statistics from Social Enterprise Networks (SENs), such as Dundee and Edinburgh.
Scotland is leading the way internationally in terms of social enterprise support and development, sometimes referred to as "the Scottish model" of doing business. There's currently strong policy support from The Scottish Government and Parliament and all political parties at Holyrood.
The more-than-profit approach is used by many organisations, of every size, operating in every corner of Scotland and in many sectors of the economy. A social enterprise is often just a Company Limited by Guarantee with an "asset lock" and social mission. It could also be a registered charity, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), Co-operative, Mutual, Social Firm, Community Interest Company (CIC), Development Trust, Credit Union or Housing Association (Registered Social Landlord / RSL). A social enterprise can be a combination of these models. Together they make up Scotland`s social enterprise movement