What are social enterprises?
Social enterprises include co-operatives, mutual societies,charities and volunteering groups.
Co-operatives and mutual societies
Co-operatives and mutual societies want to make sure that their members (customers and employees) get a fair deal. When a co-operative is established, each member puts in the same amount of money. Each shares equally in the control of the business and takes an equal share of profits.
In larger co-operatives, management control may fall to a smaller group, but these will be elected by all the membership.
Main types of co-operatives
Worker co-operatives- A group of workers pool their labour to produce a good or service.
Producer co-operatives- A group of producers share costs and help eachother to sell what they produce. These co-operatives are often agricultural and share expensive machinery which needs for only a short time, They can also get better prices if they all agree on similar prices.
Consumer co-operatives- These are generally retail organisations that buy products on behalf of memebers and make sure that they are sold at fair prices.
A mutual society
A mutual society is also a type of co-operative. They were set up to provide members with financial help. Originally they were insurance societies protecting against fire or theft building sociteites (to help members to buy houses) and even funeral societies (to pay for funerals and provide pensions). Many have now grown into big businesses and have become household names.
Charities want to maximise the amount of good that they can do, which usually means raising as much money as possible for their particular cause.
Voluntary groups ususally provide a service to the community. People volunteer to work for them. E.g. st johns ambulance and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. These groups may also be supported by charitable donations.