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Use this page to understand what social enterprises are and their associated legal structures.
A social enterprise is not a legal structure but a way of doing business. The exact definition can vary, but in general they:
For more information on the definition of a social enterprise, read Social Enterprise Mark’s explanation of a social enterprise.
Find further information on governing documents.
Social enterprises can take on many different legal structures. Some charities operate as social enterprises, so social enterprises can have a charity legal structure.
A common legal structure for a non-charitable social enterprise is a Community Interest Company (CIC). A CIC is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community.
GOV.UK has more guidance on setting up a CIC.
Other legal structures for a social enterprise include:
Learn about what to consider when choosing a legal structure.
There is a wide variety of social enterprises operating in the UK, with different legal structures. Below are a few examples taken from Social Enterprise UK.
We suggest getting more information and seeking professional advice when setting up a social enterprise and choosing the right legal structure. Below are a few options for further guidance and affordable professional advice.
Last reviewed: 03 June 2021Help us improve this content
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