A social business/social enterprise is an undertaking:

  • 1. whose primary objective is to achieve social impact rather than generating profit for owners and shareholders,
  • 2. which uses its surpluses mainly to achieve these social goals?
  • 3. which is managed by social entrepreneurs in an accountable,

transparent and innovative way, in particular by involving workers, customers and stakeholders affected by its business activity.

The main objective of social businesses is to generate a significant impact on society, the environment and the local community.


Social enterprises contribute to smart growth by responding with social innovation to needs that have not yet been met. For instance, many social enterprises take it for granted to encourage workers to learn and update their skills.

They also create sustainable growth by taking into account their environmental impact and by their long-term vision. For example, social enterprises often develop efficient ways to reduce emissions and waste or use natural resources.


In addition, social enterprises are at the heart of inclusive growth due to their emphasis on people and social cohesion: they create sustainable jobs for women, young people and the elderly. In other words, their key aim is to effect social and economic transformation which contributes to the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy.