Italy’s social enterprise sector’s core is made up of around 12,500 units: a few, 365, are for social enterprises in accordance with a 2006 law which introduced a legal definition.

A larger block is made up of social cooperatives, which is the historical social enterprise model that set the trend at a European level. In a peripheral position, but gradually moving  towards the mainstream,  two reservoirs of potential social entrepreneurship are emerging.

The first is the non­profit sphere: around 22,000 associations, volunteer organisations and foundations are registered with chambers of commerce across Italy, meaning that they have a productive aspect.

The second is made up of more than 88,000 for­profit businesses that operate in certain sectors with a high social impact, such as social services, cultural production, education, the environment and  others.
In fact Italian law recognises a social enterprise because it is active in specific fields.  Naturally, this does not mean that these are social enterprises,in every respect  but it is a useful measure for defining the new front line for production with social value between for­profit and non­profit.