Hidden social enterprises: why we need to look again at the numbers

Image of Hidden social enterprises cover
Document type
Corporate author(s)
Delta Economics
Delta Economics
Date of publication
1 March 2010
Small business & enterprise: the practicalities of running a small business and the theory of entrepreneurship
Business and management
Material type

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This report states that the social enterprise sector has a high weight of expectations on its shoulders. It is widely seen as the way forward to a post-crisis, sustainable future where business models themselves are designed to create a virtuous circle between economic, social, ethical and environmental performance, sustainable growth and re-investment in responsibility: 'good' business in every sense of the word. No business would want to be unaligned with this agenda as failure to recognise the social or environmental impact can create reputational risks that are potentially very damaging. The gauntlet has been thrown down to social enterprises to define what this business model is and how it can truly lead to both economic wealth and sustainable value creation simultaneously. Yet the hard evidence-base is manifestly weak and often grounded in ideology. This research is not based on an ideology and, as is stated at the outset, provides new insights into the sector not least because it was not a piece of work that set out to look at social enterprise in the first instance. Instead, it lets the data itself define what is and isn’t a social enterprise.

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