What is the Social Economy?
The Social Economy includes the many and varied organisations that work outside the private and the public sectors. It includes voluntary organisations, community groups, self-help groups, community co-operatives and enterprises, religious organisations, and other non-profit distribution organisations of benefit to communities and people in Wales.
A social enterprise is a business with primarily social purposes. Like any business, it aims to generate surpluses, but it seeks to reinvest those surpluses principally in the business or in the community, to enable it to deliver on its social objectives. It is, therefore, not simply a business driven by the need to maximise profit to shareholders or owners.
There is no single legal model for social enterprise. They include Community Interest Companies (CICs), companies limited by guarantee, industrial and provident societies, and companies limited by shares; some organisations are unincorporated and others are registered charities.
Social enterprises are involved in a range of activities and can take many forms including credit unions, co-operatives, social firms, social businesses, community businesses, intermediate labour market companies, and development trusts.
The Wrexham Social Economy Project existed as an ESF Objective 3 funded initiative, partnered by the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW) and Wrexham County Borough Council (WCBC).
The project, which ended in 2006, was in place to develop a culture of social entrepreneurship in Wrexham, to encourage social enterprises to thrive. This was done through raising awareness of social enterprise, and providing a guidance and sign-posting service to existing and potential social enterprises.
The main focus was to prove the need for social enterprise support in Wrexham.
The main focus of the Social Economy Project was to prove the need for social enterprise support in Wrexham. A mapping exercise was conducted in order to establish the current levels of community and social enterprise activity in Wrexham County Borough. Through this exercise the project identified gaps in provision, barriers faced by organisations, and the level of support needed by those groups to help them in generating their own income and moving away from grant dependency.
One of the main developments from the Social Economy Project was the production of the Social Enterprise Toolkit, which is accessed regionally, nationally and internationally.
The Social Economy Project, in partnership with Liverpool Plus, produced a step-by-step guide to starting and running a social enterprise, which is available free of charge to community organisations in Wrexham.
The Manual for Developing Social Enterprises is available to download or alternatively a hardcopy or CD ROM version can be obtained from AVOW. (Tel: 01978 312556).