Social Enterprise

What is it?

Social Enterprise is an idea, a way of doing business.

A social enterprise is a business that trades to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. Social enterprises are businesses. They make and do things that earn money and make profits like any business, which is what sets them apart from community groups and charities who fundraise to support their activities.

Social Enterprises work to make a bigger difference, reinvesting the profits they make to do more good. They do this in a lot of different ways:

  • creating jobs for people who would otherwise be left out
  • reinvesting profits in community projects
  • protecting the environment, providing vital services for people who might not get them otherwise.

It is this combination of doing business and doing good that makes social enterprise one of the most exciting and fast-growing movements in this country and across the world.

Who Does It?

All kinds of people! In Orkney some social enterprises that you may have heard of are For Art’s Sake, Craft Hub Orkney and Orkney Cheese.

Some other organisations that might be considered social enterprise are our community halls and charity shops.

Most community groups in Orkney will have undertaken some enterprising activity at some point whether it’s a bake sale, selling tea towels or holding a jumble sale. The profits a group makes from these kinds of activities is what is called ‘unrestricted’ meaning there are no legal obligations on how it’s spent.

Wait! We already do that!

If you are involved in a community group, chances are you are ‘enterprising’.

VAO are here to support both social enterprises and community groups who are looking to supplement their income by selling goods or services. We can help you develop your activity, review your legal structure, create a business model or plan if it’s appropriate and help you develop this potential source of income for your group.

For assistance, please contact, or phone our office on 01856 872 897.

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  • Orkney Community Directory

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