What is Social Enterprise?

I was recently invited to be part of the Beyond Sports Summit, in Philadelphia to help the audience answer one question – What is Social Enterprise? I want to give you an answer to that question too.  It’s a question that keeps coming up, and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.

A little background

I’ve worked with several different social enterprise support services in London over the past couple of years, and had the privilege to know and work with a number of social entrepreneurs over that time.  When the organising team contacted me to answer the “what is social enterprise” question, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

You see, even for us in the social enterprise industry, we don’t all have one strict definition that everyone around the world agrees on.  We do all have a sense of what it means, and I’ll give you my answer:

Social Enterprises use financially sustainable business models to solve social problems.  

Wikipedia says Social Enterprises apply “commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximising profits for external shareholders.”

I like my answer better.   Continue reading