The voice for Social Enterprises & Social Entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. Connecting, supporting, developing and sustaining vibrant businesses to create social change.


What is a social enterprise?


A social enterprise is like any other business in that it works to deliver goods and services to make a profit. The difference is that they are driven by their social and environmental purposes and any profit made is reinvested towards achieving these purposes.

The government defines social enterprises as “businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”

Social enterprise is an umbrella term and encompasses a broad range of social and environmental business. These include credit Unions, cooperatives, community-owned enterprises and trading arms of charities to list just a few.

Social Enterprises operate in almost every industry in the UK, from health and social care to renewable energy, from retail to recycling, from employment to sport, from housing to education.

Well known UK Social Enterprises include The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, The Co-op and more locally in Northern Ireland, Bryson Charitable Group and East Belfast Mission, 2012 winners of the overall UK award for Social Enterprise.