Social Enterprise UK have produced a new report revealing a thriving social enterprise sector in the UK.
The report shows that:
There is a vibrant startup community amongst social enterprises. Nearly a third of the sample were three years old or younger, and while relatively small, they are innovative.
A greater proportion of startups export goods or services than more established social enterprises.
Social enterprise appeals to people from a wide range of backgrounds. Women and people from Black,
Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are well represented, and equal proportions
of social entrepreneurs come from the private and public sectors.
There is a big appetite for finance to sustain and grow, but getting hold of it is still the biggest barrier
for social enterprises. Nearly half tried to raise finance in the last 12 months,
with the biggest group looking for £10,000 to £50,000.
The majority still saw grants as part of their funding mix. This shows that it’s as important as ever that
investors make smaller, more patient forms of capital available to social entrepreneurs, to help them move from startup to scale.
The social enterprise sector is growing and thriving. Recent government estimates suggest there are 70,000
social enterprises in the UK, employing around a million people.
The sector’s contribution to the economy has been valued at over £24 billion. The UK is a pioneer when it comes to social enterprise and the social investment
that helps finance it, attracting the interest of international practitioners and policymakers alike.
One important barrier to growth and sustainability that is commonly cited by social
enterprises is public procurement policy: in this year’s survey, the number of social enterprises citing
it as a principal barrier has increased markedly.
Social Enterprise UK says
“Overall, we believe that the main thing to be interpreted from our survey is that the UK’s considerable social enterprise sector is likely to swell in size. In our last survey two years ago, we identified a startup explosion. Since then, we have seen the
proportion of startups increase even more dramatically. We believe that this is partly
generational, related to young people’s attitudes to business and civic duty; partly driven
by the economic decline, as startups traditionally increase during a recession; and partly
due to a shift in the plates of the UK economy..”