Social Enterprise Trends in United Kingdom

There is only one.. [Photo by malevolisco] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Are CICs the Right Model For Social Enterprise in the UK?

CIC is short for Community Interest Company, and it is the preferred legal form in the UK for social enterprise companies. This term is used to describe those companies that want to conduct a business or other activity for community benefit and not purely for private advantage. Since CIC legislation was introduced five years ago, over 5,000 CICs have been formally founded within the UK’s borders, and that number continues to grow.

Despite this widespread popularity, there is still a lot of controversy around how effective the CIC model is for communities and the social enterprise movement. Some critics have charged that CICs are effectively anti-entrepreneurial, because the structure places social entrepreneurs at an unnecessary disadvantage by restricting their freedom to operate. Among the questions that are currently being debated on CICs are whether it is possible to sell CIC shares for a profit, and whether there are better models for social entrepreneurs to adopt.

New Website Links to Social Enterprise

The controversy surrounding the CIC model has not stopped the rapid growth of social enterprise in the UK, and a new website is reflecting that fact by providing links that make it easier for people to find and do business with this growing array of social entrepreneurs.

Seb2b.co.uk lists social enterprises by business category, which makes it easy to find socially-responsible businesses across a wide range of sectors. Listed companies provide services both direct to consumers and to other businesses as well. Products and services include payroll, printing, catering, conference facilities and much more.

The website currently has 20 business categories, and also features links to news items on the social enterprise sector, and marketing and sales tips designed to help social enterprises. A criteria for inclusion on the site is that profits generated by a business must be re-invested into the business in order to support the chosen social or environmental cause.