Social Enterprise

'Social enterprises are businesses which a set up to change the world. Like traditional businesses they aim to make a profit but it’s what they do with their profits that sets them apart – reinvesting or donating it to create positive social change.  Social enterprises exist in nearly every sector from consumer goods to healthcare, community energy to creative agencies, restaurants to facilities management. Well known examples include The Big Issue, Divine Chocolate and the Eden Project but there are over 70,000 social enterprises throughout the country contributing £24 billion to the economy and employing nearly a million people.​'  Social Enterprise UK

'In the UK alone, there are 70,000 social enterprises, contributing £18.5 billion to the UK economy and employing almost a million people. This exciting movement is growing fast all around the world and we're seeing a boom in start-ups being launched that combine doing business with doing good.' Buy Social

Social Enterprise isn't a legal definition, although many social enterprises choose to register themselves as a Community Interest Company.  60% of charities would probably fall under the social enterprise category as well. Social enterprise is a concept about how you run your business - it is about being socially aware and often not-for-profit, whilst still running the organisation like a business. You may be about to start up an organisation or you may have been running it for sometime but would like a bit more information about trading and income generation, whether you can be a paid director or not, or even whether or not your organisation is a 'social enterprise'.

To find out more, you might like to look at An Introduction to Social Enterprise, which is a brief overview of what a social enterprise is and how they fit in with the rest of the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in Waltham Forest.

Our Support

If you need support for your social enterprise please contact our Development Team at

We can:

  • Provide advice and information about the various legal forms

  • Provide income generation support

  • Provide support and training around starting up, and around strategic and business planning

  • Help you to get involved with our new Social Enterprise Network

Our New Social Enterprise Network

Community Waltham Forest have launched a Social Enterprise Network to support peer-to-peer learning, networking, collaboration and learning for social enterprises. If you would like to find out more, or if you are a social enterprise who would like to join, please email

Community Waltham Forest Useful Resources

Community Waltham Forest Resources - Income Generation: fact sheets and resources to help you generate income across the income spectrum

Community Waltham Forest Resources - Starting Up: Various resources regarding starting up an organisation including fact sheets on different legal forms.

An Introduction to Social Enterprise: A brief overview of what a social enterprise is and how they fit in with the rest of the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in Waltham Forest.

Crowdfunding for Community Groups: Crowdfunding is a form of microfinance where large numbers of people make small donations towards new projects or start up enterprises. this guide outlines what crowdfunding is and things to consider if using it to raise finance for your project.

List of Crowd Funders: a list of known crowd funding websites - this will updated regularly

Social Enterprise Resources and Support: A useful list of Social Enterprise support and resources and Crowdfunding sites. This will be updated regularly, so if you know of any more, please let us know.

External Resources:

Business & IP Centre at the British Library: Advice, information, support, networking, training and events to help you start, run and grow your business

Business in the Community: Support, advice, networks and campaigning

Community Catalysts: a Community Interest Company that works through local partners to help enterprising people and community organisations to offer care and support to local people.

Community Shares: Advice and support about, and investment of,  community shares.

Companies House: Registrar for companies. Also offers guidance.

Co-operatives UK: The national trade body that campaigns for co-operation and works to promote, develop and unite co-operative enterprises.

Guardian Sustainable Business: Useful news and information relevant to social businesses , including the Social Enterprise Network Blog.

Locality: nationwide network for community-led organisations

Olmec: BME focussed support and bespoke training for social enterprise and social entrepreneurs.

Red Ochre: Works to support organisations delivering social change across the UK and worldwide.

School for Social Entrepreneurs: Accredited courses specifically for social enterprise and social entrepreneurs.

Small Good Stuff: an accessible web directory that is totally free of charge and gives the little guys a chance to show people the splendid things they can offer.

Social Enterprise UK: The national body for social enterprise, providing advice, support, trainig and events.

UK Crowdfunding Association: The national body for the promotion of crowdfunding