The CSR-Social Enterprise-Charity spectrum.
There is no strict definition of what social enterprise is - they fit somewhere in between charities and for-profit businesses. Generally, when people are talking about social enterprises, they are talking about profit making companies that operate to create a positive cultural, social or environmental impact. This means they often invest most of their profits and expenditure into creating positive outcomes. Unlike traditional businesses, the primary purpose of a social enterprise is not profit and maximising wealth for shareholders, the primary purpose of a social enterprise is its social impact.
If operating as a social enterprise does not suit your business, you can still help social enterprises to create a positive social, cultural and environment impact by engaging and working with social enterprises. An easy way to do this is by using social procurement.
Social procurement is the intentional purchase of goods or services that results in or creates positive social change. All businesses need to procure goods or services to operate - social procurement is when businesses use procurement to create a positive social impact, as well as providing the business with the goods or services they need. One way for a business to use social procurement to make a social impact is to purchase the goods or services they need from social enterprises, rather than other profit-driven businesses. Businesses have so much power to redirect spend from the pockets of the shareholders of their traditional suppliers to social enterprises and to make a positive social impact.