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Defining Social Enterprise

The Social Enterprise Continuum

Organisations exist on a continuum, ranging from grant-dependent traditional NPOs operating with the primary intention of social value creation, to traditional businesses generating income through trading activities, and operating for the purpose of economic value creation. Towards the centre of the continuum are social enterprises. 



There is a wide spectrum of third sector organizations and, as organisations evolve, they may move along the continuum and so be categorised differently.

At the right hand end of the continuum, impact enterprise/social business is a loose term, here used todescribe for-profit firms whose activity centres around creating positive social or environmental impact but in which ultimate ownership of profits and assets rests with individuals or shareholders. 

A socially responsible business is typically one who considers the social and environmentalimpact of its activities and attempts to mitigate against some of these negative effects. Theterm Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is often used to describe private sector activities inthis area. Some socially responsible businesses report on their “triple bottom line".

Source: © SOCIAL ENTERPRISE ACADEMY 2017. Used with permission.