seToolbelt Resource of the Week: Social Enterprise Explained

Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Entrepreneurship, How-To, Non-Profit, Resources

OK, maybe we got a bit ahead of ourselves. Maybe we should have kicked off with this resource right from the start. But, it’s never too late to re-do.

This Resource of the Week is for those of you who might be new to social enterprise. Perhaps you’ve heard the term thrown around loosely (as it tends to be) or maybe you’ve noticed how the word “social” seems to preface just about everything these days. Pile on that the peaking popularity of social media, and the term “social enterprise” gets convoluted quickly. Here’s one of my favorite examples, in which a huge corporation (we won’t name names) has gone and trademarked the term “social enterprise.”

So, we thought it would be helpful to bring the discussion back to basics, and direct you to a great introductory resource by Social Enterprise UK. Social Enterprise UK is a membership-based national body supporting social enterprise development and growth across the UK. It engages in policy reform, conducts media campaigns and research, publishes how-to guides, sponsors events, and provides business supports and services to social enterprises. These guys put out some great resources–visit their website or check out all of their resources on seToolbelt.

Social Enterprise Explained: For beginners, wonderers and people with ideas, big and small

This guide offers a fantastic introduction to the field of the social enterprise. It includes a loose definition of the term, and outlines what a social enterprise is and (equally important) what it is not. It looks at current economic and societal conditions that are giving social enterprise a boost, touches on the kind of people who run social enterprises (spoiler alert–it’s all kinds of people!), and includes loads of examples of social enterprises operating across the UK. It also provides links and resources if you’re ready to get involved in the field, either by volunteering or working for a social enterprise, or by starting one up yourself.

Try not to get too bogged down by the jargon and squabbling about defining social enterprise (like this, or this). At seToolbelt, we’ve simplified our definition and consider a social enterprise to be any venture (forprofit, nonprofit, or hybrid) created specifically to solve a social problem or market failure that uses private-sector, market-based approaches to simultaneously create economic and social value.

You’ve got the tools to find your own place in this growing field of social enterprise–so, get to it!

Lindsay Miller

Lindsay leads, a free open content resource hub that helps social entrepreneurs plan, start, manage, and grow successful social enterprises. She has worked as a consultant to social enterprises and nonprofits in the US and abroad, served as the Programming Lead for the Skoll World Forum, and studied as a Skoll Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford's Said Business School. She lives in Hood River, Oregon.

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