man and woman holding a business meeting outside

This briefing gives a basic introduction to the concept of social enterprise (people working for the good of their community), offers examples of how it can work for you in an arts environment, and lists key considerations if you are thinking of starting your own. 

A social enterprise is a business with a social and/or environmental purpose. Like any other business, it aims to generate income through the sale of goods or services. However, any profits made will be re-invested into the business or the community. To ensure this happens, social enterprises normally have what is known as an
‘asset lock’, which prevents any surpluses going to shareholders and, in the event of the organisation going under, all assets have to be transferred to a similar organisation.

Social enterprises can serve a variety of purposes and, if successful, can have a significant impact on a wide range of social and economic problems within a community. They can provide meaningful employment, support vulnerable people, strengthen rural communities, promote social inclusion and much more!

This briefing explains:- 

  • Types of social enterprise
  • The social entrepreneur
  • Social enterprise and the arts
  • Things to think about
  • Monitoring your impact
  • Further Resources
  • Financing your enterprise

Briefing 117: Social Enterprise