What is a Social Enterprise?

Social enterprises use business strategies to maximize social, environmental or cultural impact goals
What is a Social Enterprise

Making a difference is the bottom line

For seCatalyst, a social enterprise is distinguished from other types of businesses, non-profits and government agencies based on the following criteria:

  • Addressing a cultural, social and/or environmental need is the principal goal, which serves the common good through its products and services or through offering employment to people who face barriers to mainstream employment;
  • Commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a non-profit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or as a for-profit enterprise;
  • The common good is its primary purpose, Literally ‘baked into’ the enterprise’s DNA;
  • Surpluses and profits are to be principally reinvested into its social, cultural and/or environmental mandate.

Is a social enterprise the same as a social venture?


Typically, a social enterprise tends to be operated as a non-profit, and a social venture as a for-profit. seCatalyst takes the perspective that the incorporation of an enterprise is less important than the purpose of the enterprise, whether it be non-profit, for-profit, CCC or co-operative.  We use social enterprise and social venture interchangeably.

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We respectfully acknowledge that the offices of Scale Collaborative are located on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən-speaking peoples, now known as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples.

Social Enterprise Catalyst is convened by Scale Collaborative. Copyright 2022