Social enterprise support policies: distinctions and challenges

Part of book or chapter of book English OPEN
Lyon, Fergus ; Sepulveda, Leandro (2012)
  • Publisher: Gower Publishing

This chapter examines the support infrastructure for a specific segment of the SME market, namely social enterprises. The first section briefly examines the different definitions of social enterprise found in different countries. There is a spectrum of types of organisations ranging from commercial enterprises with social objectives, to voluntary or community sector organisations that have an element of trading activity. The second section discusses the rationales for public sector interest in support, examining how this differs between countries and over time. Particular attention is given to the emergence of social enterprise policies in the UK. The third section examines the different types of support that are commonly provided. This includes: encouraging social entrepreneurship and attitudes to starting a social enterprise; training and advisory services for start ups and for those wanting to grow or survive; social investment and finance; social enterprises and public sector procurement; and the transfer of public assets to social enterprise organisations. The final section examines the challenges of evaluating the effectiveness of these policies. Since social enterprises provide a combination of social, environmental and financial objectives, evaluation measures have to address both economic benefits and broader social value.
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