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The diverse world of social enterprise: A collection of social enterprise stories

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to highlight the diverse world of social enterprise. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper profiles 11 different social enterprises from around the world. These range from a profit-achieving business in a very competitive industry, but one with strong social principles, through a profitable workers' co-operative to ones needing to find financial sustainability if they are to continue their social aspirations. The paper discusses a number of key issues in defining an organisation as a social enterprise and highlights the central issue of measuring success and impact. Findings ‐ In some of the enterprises the important contribution of a pivotal social entrepreneur is apparent. The need to create and add value for customers and clients is always apparent, as is the need to find effective routes to market. It can be concluded that whilst certain beliefs and principles are routinely evident, social enterprises most certainly cannot be described as "one-size-fits-all". Originality/value ‐ The paper presents a collection of social enterprise stories.

Keywords: Business enterprise; Corporate social responsibility; Entrepreneurialism; Social problems

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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