Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment.

In the Australian context, there is no legal structure called social enterprise but are typically defined as organisations that:

Why do social enterprises need to make a profit?

If a social enterprise does not make a profit, it must be dependent on philanthropic or government support to stay afloat. Some social enterprises exist knowing that they need to raise funds every year to continue operating. These social enterprises which are reliant on non-commercial sources of support believe their social returns merit the grants they seek and secure. Most social enterprises seek to generate a profit from trading activity because they are ineligible for grants or because they choose to operate this way. No matter how you look at it, income must exceed expenses over time.

Social enterprises can broadly be categorised into three principle motivations