The idea of most business activity is to earn profits which can be paid to the shareholders who invested in the enterprise in the first place. The difference with social entrepreneurship is that the profits from the initial start-up capital are ploughed back into local communities.
Such enterprises go back to 1844 in Britain after the industrial revolution, when the first co-operatives were founded in the mill towns of Lancashire in Northern England.
Today, social enterprise is, literally, big business in the UK, with around 55,000 enterprises employing more than 650,000 people and generating £8.4 billion for the British economy every year. Social enterprises are seen as a way of delivering services to communities, and to those in need across society, which is both cost-effective and inclusive.