Social Enterprise

What is Social Enterprise?

The term “Social Enterprise” is primarily originated from the United Kingdom. While there is no uniform definition, generally speaking, social enterprise is established mainly to serve the social purpose of the enterprise itself or the community. It is different from private enterprises in a way that it does not only operate to benefit the shareholders on profitable return.

Social enterprises are engaged in public welfare undertakings through market mechanisms to mobilize social forces.

Some existing social enterprises:-

FLOW (Taiwan):
Children Are Us Foundation (Taiwan):
Social Enterprises (Hong Kong):
HKCSS-HSBC (Hong Kong):
Wofoo Social Enterprise (Hong Kong):
Social Enterprise Summit (Hong Kong):
Social Enterprise Coalition (U.K.):

Social Enterprise

The United Kingdom was the first nation exercising the development of social enterprise as government policy. Early in the year 2002, the British Government has already launched the initial strategy of social enterprise. In 2006, the British Government defined ‘Social Enterprise’ as the enterprise possessing fundamental aim of the society, but not holding the greatest shares nor reaping all procurable benefits as its motive since it re-invests the procured profits into the society or enterprise. The corporate forms of social enterprise industry varies, they can be Charitable Organization, Community Benefit Company, Co-operative Society, Community Benefit Association, Trust Fund or Limited Company. Social enterprise employs the commercial method in pursuit of social target; when compare to commercial enterprise, the difference between the two does not lie in profit-making but the way to handle the profit gained. Social enterprise has a special charity feature. When compare to the charity organization, the difference between the two does not lie in benefit-seeking as the target, rather in its method of operation therefore social enterprise possesses management.

The social aim of social enterprise is to satisfy the need of the society, to provide individual household service to families and communities in order to satisfy such kind of service required by the society such as taking care of woman after childbirth, accompanying the patients for consulting the doctor and tending the senior individually. To create employment opportunities for the less competitive, underprivileged groups including people of low education, low skill, middle-aged and handicapped so as to enhance the development of the workers. Social enterprise also encourages its members to be self-reliant and merge to the society. Social enterprise with cooperatives system particularly stresses team cooperation and participation which develops empowerment for its members and establish social capital. Through linking of community networks, social enterprise boosts integration within the community; updates, promotes and pushes sustainable development. It promotes social development and environment protection through the uplifting of eco-friendly mentality, advocate of sustainable consumption and encouragement of recycling.

Up till 2007, the British Social Enterprise Department includes 55,000 social enterprises. United Kingdom is the world most successful, most active country in the social enterprising industry.

In Hong Kong for the recent years, the social enterprise industry, apart from bolstered up by government strategy, quite a lot of social enterprises have been established by civic organizations or even individual. All of these social enterprises provide various services to the community from taking part in fair trades, helping the underprivileged, to preserving heritage building.

This year, Social Welfare Bureau of MSAR Government launches the scheme of ‘Financial-aid on employment development of the handicapped’ at a budget of     10 million to open doors to social organizations with qualification to apply for the operation of social enterprise with nature of newly specialized service or limited company, directing handicapped people for employment and part-take in the society.


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