What is a social enterprise
A social enterprise carries out social activities while doing business.
On this and related pages, you can find information and tools to start a
social enterprise in Denmark.
The following characteristics must be met in order to call yourself a social
In Denmark, there is an agreement that a social enterprise must be defined as
a company that:
- Has a social aim - to do good for individuals or
- Sales products or services - and is not just a
project that seeks financial support
- Reinvests any profits back in the company -
shareholders cannot take out dividends
- Registers as a business with a CVR number - it must
be a company, not a project or part of the public sector
- Is democratic and citizen-oriented - it is legitimate
in relation to its surroundings
Although many companies have a respected social approach in the community,
they are not defined as a social enterprise unless they follow the above
Social economic entrepreneur
The entrepreneurs behind a social economic activity are social economic
entrepreneurs. A social economic entrepreneur can also spark initiatives within
a traditional business or organization.
The definition of a social economic entrepreneur is:
- One or more individuals, groups or initiatives that
- identifies a societal or individual unresolved problem and
- develop innovative initiatives
- with a significant social and economic value and
- manages to engage the civil society as part of their venture
Examples of social enterprises
In Denmark, we have had social enterprises for many years - the cooperative
dairies, slaughterhouses and Brugsen (supermarket chain) were the earliest.
The social enterprises that have won the Socio-Economic Prize the last four
- Bybi.dk - sustainable town honey that creates new opportunities for people
on the fringes of the labor market making the city healthier and bringing
together people of Copenhagen who are acquainted with its natural surroundings
- Skovgaard hotel - people with a disability have the opportunity to be
"employees" rather than "users" and become "citizens" instead of "clients"
- Allehånde Kitchen - serving lunch schemes and other food while they employ
and educate deaf people in the cooking profession
- Baisikeli - getting recycled bikes back in working order and renting them
out, and sending bikes to Africa to increase the mobility of poor Africans
Entrepreneur works in three worlds
It is somewhat more complex to be a social economic entrepreneur than an
A leader of a social enterprise must be able to work within the three pillars
on which the Danish society is structured around:
- The public sector - we have for several generations decided that the
government handles the welfare state. Public institutions follow certain rules
and documentation requirements
- The business / market - private companies produce and sell goods and
generate income for individuals and societies
- Civil society - is "free time" where people can express themselves. They
play football, engage in political work and make contributions within
A traditional entrepreneur only has to relate to the market. A social
economic entrepreneur must also relate to the rules of the public sector and the
unpredictable volunteers from civil society.
The three worlds illustrated
Don´t let someone else´s opinion of you become your reality.
Les Brown, motivational speakers