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Social Enterprise - profit or impact or both?



Why do people feel they need to choose between profit or making a difference when they're planning a new business? Why is social enterprise or running an ethical business seen by many as being less commercially astute and a bit of a cop-out?

These sound like questions from twenty or thirty years ago, yes? Nope, for many people these are still genuine beliefs. Trust me - many of my students still struggle to get their heads around the idea of businesses changing lives, saving the planet and still making a profit. Maybe for some people profit and impact make strange bedfellows. Thankfully the growing number of social enterprises starting up each year in the UK see things differently.

Over the past twelve years CAP has seen increasing numbers of people choosing to start socially responsible businesses for commercial reasons. Yes, they all want to make a difference through their business, but they also think it makes commercial sense. Here's why.

  • Goodwill - a growing sense of positive feeling towards social enterprises

  • Access to funding/finance - easier to secure start-up and development finance

  • Recruitment - good, passionate people want to work for good businesses

  • Increased satisfaction - feel more motivated knowing you're making a difference

  • Collaborations - partnerships are easier to build and maintain

  • Diversified income - potential to spread risk evenly across multiple income streams

Having worked in social enterprises since 2010 I genuinely don't think I could work in another type of business. I feel that as long as we keep making a difference and help people develop the skills and confidence to change their circumstances we will be able to make a case to commissioners, grant-makers and customers that they should pay us to do our work - changing lives.....profitably. Just got to learn to deal with profit guilt....that's the next step!

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