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Social Enterprise

‘Social Enterprise’ is a broad definition for a company where bottom-line profits are not the principal aim, but which also has social or environmental aims. It may be a registered charity, or a company limited by guarantee or a ‘for profit’ company which uses its profits for a social purpose.  
Since 2005, there has been a new company status created for Community Interest Companies (CICs), which operate for community benefit. CIC status is given after meeting a community interest test, and an ‘asset lock’ is imposed which ensures that assets and profits are properly used. Unlike charitable status, there are no tax advantages from qualifying as a CIC, but it may have PR and marketing benefits. There are more than 500 CICs registered in UK

See also:

NEW  The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) supports individuals to realise their potential and to establish, scale and sustain, social enterprises and social businesses across the UK, Australia and Canada.   020 7089 9120
The International Centre for Social Franchising  (ICSF) tackles the issue of scale; its mission is to help the most successful social impact projects replicate.  020 7193 4454
The SSE and ICSF are running a course in March in London on franchising social enterprises. see brochure   for regulations relating to CICs set up by 7 non profit organizations to support social entrepreneurship. It makes grants, typically up to £5000 each, to individuals setting up their own social enterprises. They also work with Bridges Ventures (see below) to ensure that entrepreneurs seeking funding are 'investment ready'  viz that they have the management and other skills necessary for success.
For more substantial funding, see Bridges Social Enterprise Fund will invest up to £1million in social enterprises which aim to make ‘sustained social impact in areas of society where their help is much needed’. It is planned to be an ‘evergreen’ fund, reinvesting the financial returns from previous investments into further social enterprises.
Other souces of  funds:
.  is funded by the UK Government to support community enterprises, and it einsures that the people it backs receive the right training to develop the skills needed to succeed. It is currently offering Business Development Grants of up to £15,000 to community enterprises which have been running for at least 1 year. The money is to help the organisations develop their enterprise activity, build capacity within the organisation and become more investment ready. is an initiative of Charities Aid Foundation, and it provides advice as well as capital investment (average investment around £75,000). It seeks to balance its financial risk with the social return arising from the investment. Contact Sue Mullock at  is part of the Big Issue Group of companies, and their team has a 'unique combination of social entrepreneurs,  practitioners and financiers'. Their minimum investment is £50,000. gives a helpful introduction to loan finance for social enterprises