Purpose – To identify the challenges faced by UK social enterprises in their attempts to develop the kind of support needed to achieve their social, economic and environmental objectives. Design/methodology/approach – The history of social enterprise development in the UK is traced, focusing on some of the key problems of definition and complexity within the social enterprise sector. Examines some of the current problems facing social enterprises in terms of the provision of business support. Reports the results of a survey of 28 key informants working in 30 social enterprises (20 drawn from Triodos Bank’s client list, 10 non‐Tiodos Bank clients) to gather data relating to: business profile; technical profile; business support; evaluation of business support; and the role of social businesses in the UK and the quality and level of support available to the sector. Includes results for five organizations from two specific industry sectors for more detailed research (electrical and electronic waste refurbishment sector, care sector). Findings – The results indicated that the current needs of social enterprises are not being met by the current provision for such organizations since such provision fails to address the strategic tension that exists between social and business purpose. Concludes with recommendation for providers of business support and advice to the social enterprise sector. Research limitations/implications – The sample was skewed towards organic related businesses (farming, wholesale/retailing of organic products) and fewer care‐related businesses than anticipated from national statistics were included. Originality/value – Provides important results based on research commissioned by Triodos Bank, an ethical and social bank that lends to social enterprises across the UK.
Social Enterprise Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 1, 2005
Keywords: Social enterprises; Business support services; Small to medium‐sized enterprises; Social responsibility; Public administration; Small enterprises; United Kingdom
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