Social enterprises resilience in times of limited resources

This study examines the growth and development of a sample of 153 social enterprises.

The social entrepreneurs in this study were all alumni of the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), a charity that helps social entrepreneurs develop through an intensive year-long programme. The mixed-methodological approach comprised both semi-structured interviews (n=6) and a structured questionnaire (n=153). Thematic analysis of the interviews and analysis of the survey suggests that social enterprises have particular unique advantages compared to both traditional businesses and charities.

Results showed that the social enterprises were, on average, more likely to survive than the average UK business and had a much different pattern of growth. Social enterprises also have a diverse mix of funding compared to charities—which seems to make them more sustainable. Results also showed that the social enterprises are having a strong social impact. This suggests that social enterprises can provide a more resilient funding structure in times of limited resources, at the same time as achieving their social mission.

Social enterprises can tap into multiple sources of income, which seems to offer them advantages over traditional charities, allowing them to grow more rapidly and in a more sustainable way.

Eibhlín Ní Ógáin, report author