Social enterprises are businesses. This means they are engaged in some form of trading. But instead of making money for private shareholders they make profits to address social and/or environmental purposes; and differ from voluntary sector organisations by having a business focus.

If you're thinking of social enterprise of any form can access the same advice, guidance and funding as any other businessbut you may wish to also consider some of the social enterprise specific support.


Community Interest Companies

A Community Interest Company (CIC) is a limited company, with special additional features, created for the use of people who want to conduct a business or other activity for community benefit, and not purely for private advantage.

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Inspire 2 Enterprise

This is a social enterprise, a joint-venture between the University of Northampton and Exemplas, providing a unique free-to-access social enterprise support, information and advice service - from start-up through to initial growth and beyond.

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Social Enterprise East of England

This is a membership organisation for social enterprises in Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.Social Enterprise East of England offers a way to reach the social enterprise market.

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Social Enterprise Live

This is a document which provides a range of business planning and templates in respect of running a business with equal financial, social and environmental aims.

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Social Enterprise UK

Social Enterprise UK are the national body for Social Enterprise. They represent members and help grow the Social Enterprise movement. The work the organisation undertakes includes, building networks between social enterprises, raises the profile of people and social enterprises in the sector, run campaigns for members and research the UK's social enterprise movement.

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Starting a Social Enterprise

You must choose the business structure if you're starting a business that helps people or communities (a "social enterprise").

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Big Issue Invest

Big Issue Invest is a Social Merchant Bank - by Social Entrepreneurs, for Social Entrepreneurs. They manage the Social Enterprise Investment Fund LP, which provides growth capital to social enterprises delivering high social impact and with a scaleable business model.

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Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund provide funding for community groups and projects that improve health, education and the environment. They deliver funding throughout the UK, mostly through programmes tailored specifically to the needs of communities along with programmes which cover the whole UK.

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Bridges Ventures

Bridges Ventures provides hands-on investment and entrepreneurial talent can be used to address some of the challenges facing our society, as well as drive sustainable growth.

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Commuity Development Finance Institutions

They provide financial support and capital to businesses and individuals that would otherwise not have access to, or be refused services by, mainstream financial service providers.

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Foundation East

Foundation East are a membership organisation that lends money to business owners across Essex. They offer loans of up to £100,000 to both start up and growing enterprises. In addition they provide help and support with completing the application forms and busienss plans, offering business support after a loan has been awarded.

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A foundation which helps social enterprises seeking funding to become "investment ready". They offer businesses a number of resources from Awards of funding, to ongoing advice, networking and practical support.

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