Starting a Social Enterprise resources

15 Feb 2021 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 22 Feb 2021

PDF icon What is a Social Enterprise?1.18 MB

Amanda Johnston from Social Enterprise NI (SENI) along with 3 social enterprises delivered a session on Starting a social enterprise as part of the CFNI programme funded by Department for Communities. 

Amanda Johnston from SENI gave an overview of What is A Social Enterprise, what is the differences between operating as a charity and as a social enterprise and whether community groups/charities should consider starting a trading arm of a social enterprise and the differing legal structures you can be operate as, including the importance of having a board.  

Three other speakers spoke about their experience starting and running social enterprises:

Reasons to make it legal

  • Limiting your personal liability - If your business gets into debt you personally may be liable.
  • The legal framework you choose helps create your identity.
  • Your legal framework will set the rules and regulations about how you trade

Things to think about

  • Need to have clear aims for their business
  • What are your mission and objectives?
  • How are you going to be financed?

Reasons to start a social enterprise

  • Someone has experienced or identified a problem they want to solve (and then solve it for other people)
  • All businesses should operate this way, and put people and planet on an equal footing with profit
  • Charities needing to earn more of their money to survive and thrive
  • Not wanting to rely on handouts or donations or volunteering to be sustainable
  • Being inspired by examples of successful social enterprises
  • See a gap in the market that they could income generate from

Things to consider when starting a social enterprise

  • Charity to social enterprise is changing the funding model
  • Decide on your legal structure
  • Find support and Get a mentor either from a support programme or someone you admire and respect
  • Finding and keeping best people – skills of board and staff team very important.
  • Business approach
  • Finding investment and funding

For more support and help go to the SENI website's picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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