Social Enterprise

What is a Social Enterprise?

Social enterprises are values-based businesses that generate networks of positive relationships while delivering sustainable economic development. They have three fundamental characteristics;

  • trade either goods or services as much as possible to generate income, contain an asset lock (all surpluses are reinvested) and
  • operate to achieve social and/or environmental objectives
  • they aspire to be self-sustaining and create employment opportunities through income generation

Our Work with Social Enterprise

As Social Enterprises place social/environmental aims at their core, they are well suited to tap into and produce social capital within as well as across communities. At the same time social capital is recognised as being a critical part for societies to prosper economically and develop sustainably.

For that reason we focus on Social Enterprises as one of our main areas to work with as we believe that social capital can enable and increase their social/environmental values by deepening communication and collaboration within as well as across communities.

Some of the current areas we work in are

  • The Unlocking Potential (U>P) – our online platform providing a valuable tool for social capital evaluation which can demonstrate the value as well as the evidence on the impact social enterprises and community projects are having. This April 2017, the Scottish Government announced that they will be working with us using U>P as a new method of demonstrating social enterprises’ value in partnership with local social enterprise networks
  • The Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve (SEBR) Development Framework is a multidimensional and multi-stakeholder approach to encourage and cultivate values as well as enhance sustainable economic development in Biosphere Reserves based on working with social enterprises
  • As part of our work with SEBR we also developed the OASIIS platform to visualise and gather socio-economic data to evidence local economic opportunities (including social enterprise activity) that biosphere reserves provide towards long-term economic development and stronger communities

Assist Social Capital CIC is a social enterprise  itself and we conform to the principles of the Social Enterprise Code of Practice. 

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Some of our Projects

Background on Social Enterprise

The term social enterprise began to be used in the early 1990’s. Since then the notion of social enterprise has become ever more popular. According to the European Commission, there are 2 million social enterprises in the EU (representing 10 per cent of all European businesses) and they employ over 11 million people (the equivalent of 6 per cent of the working population of the EU). In EU Member States, social enterprises are present in almost every sector of the economy, including banking, insurance, agriculture, crafts, various commercial services, and health and social services.

Social entrepreneurs are individuals who believe passionately in achieving benefit for their community via the running of an organisation. Social entrepreneurs are people who are prepared to ‘get their hands dirty’ doing what is necessary to achieve their social aim and who have the dogged determination to see it through. They often use social enterprise as a vehicle to carry out this work, choosing it for the independence and creative approach that can be found in a self-financing model as opposed to the more traditional method of charitable giving and grants.

If you are interested in social enterprise, you can also find more information on the websites of the following agencies: Senscot, SENs and Community Enterprise.