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Social Enterprise

If you're thinking of social enterprise of any form you can access the same advice, guidance and funding as any other business but you may wish to also consider some of the social enterprise specific support.

Setting up a Social Enterprise

Starting a Social Enterprise

You must choose the business structure if you're starting a business that helps people or communities (a "social enterprise").

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This is a social enterprise, a joint-venture between the University of Northampton and Exemplas, providing a unique free-to-access social enterprise support, information and advice service - from start-up through to initial growth and beyond. 

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Social Enterprise Live

This document provides a range of business planning and templates in respect of running a business with equal financial, social and environmental aims.


Community Interest Companies

A Community Interest Company (CIC) is a limited company, with special additional features, created for the use of people who want to conduct a business or other activity for community benefit, and not purely for private advantage.

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This is a membership organisation for social enterprises in Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. Social Enterprise East of England offers a way to reach the social enterprise market. 

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Social Enterprise UK

Social Enterprise UK are the national body for Social Enterprise. They represent members and help grow the Social Enterprise movement. The work the organisation undertakes includes, building networks between social enterprises, raises the profile of people and social enterprises in the sector, run campaigns for members and research the UK's social enterprise movement.

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Funding a Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are businesses, meaning they are engaged in some form of trading, but instead of making money for private shareholders they make profits to address social and/or environmental purposes; and differ from voluntary sector organisations by having a business focus.

The Social Enterprise Mark is the only UK and international certification that independently guarantees that a business operates as a social enterprise, with the central aim of using income and profits to maximise their positive social and/or environmental impact, taking precedent over more standard business models, typically driven by a requirement to maximise personal profits for owners and shareholders.

In addition to mainstream funders you may wish to try:

Responsible Finance

They provide financial support and capital to businesses and individuals that would otherwise not have access to, or be refused services by, mainstream financial service providers. 

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Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund provide funding for community groups and projects that improve health, education and the environment. They deliver funding throughout the UK, mostly through programmes tailored specifically to the needs of communities along with programmes which cover the whole UK.

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Bridges Fund Management

Bridges Fund Management provides hands-on investment and entrepreneurial talent can be used to address some of the challenges facing our society, as well as drive sustainable growth.

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Big Issue Invest

Big Issue Invest is a Social Merchant Bank - by Social Entrepreneurs, for Social Entrepreneurs. They manage the Social Enterprise Investment Fund LP, which provides growth capital to social enterprises delivering high social impact and with a scaleable business model. 

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Foundation East

Foundation East are a membership organisation that lends money to business owners across Essex. They offer loans of up to £100,000 to both start up and growing enterprises. In addition they provide help and support with completing the application forms and busienss plans, offering business support after a loan has been awarded. 

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A foundation which helps social enterprises seeking funding to become "investment ready". They offer businesses a number of resources from Awards of funding, to ongoing advice, networking and practical support. 

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