There are around 70,000 Social Enterprises operating in the UK, contributing £18.5 billion to the economy and employing close to a million people (many of whom might otherwise be disadvantaged in the labour market), it'd be a mistake to measure their success in purely financial terms. Profits are re-invested toward social or environmental goals, and this is where their real value lies.
There's a lot more to being a Social Enterprise than having good intentions and a sound business strategy. It's perfectly possible to run an ethical business or to be morally responsible in your trading without qualifying. You might be gaining some tax advantages by donating a portion of your profits to charity, you might be taking steps to reduce your environmental impact or carrying a scoop to clean up whenever your business does its business in the gutter. However, none of that in itself is going to classify you as a social Enterprise.
Jane Ollis, RIFT Accounting MD and Chief Adventurer, appeared on Business Bunker to talk about what is involved in setting up and running a Social Enterprise and the opportunities around doing so. You can listen to her interview from the site.
During the interview Jane made mention of a number of sources of funding:
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation http://esmeefairbairn.org.uk/
Big Lottery Fund https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/funding
Nesta Investments https://nestainvestments.org.uk/
Community Investment Fund http://socialandsustainable.com/community-investment-fund/
CAF Online https://www.cafonline.org/
Funding database http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk
Setting up a Social Enterprise isn't as quick as some other types of business, and both running it and calculating its success can actually be more complicated. Your business model must make good sense, and your goals must be realistic and measurable. Before you wade out into those waters, you'll need to be sure your footing is strong enough to avoid being swept away by the realities of the business you're in. Your idea, your resolve and your plan must be tested, and detailed, tailored advice will go a long way toward making your Social Enterprise a success.
Contact RIFT Accounting to see how we can help you build the world you want to live in.