Social enterprise has redefined the way people do business in the UK. It has not only inspired people to rethink how they do business, but has opened up a window of opportunity for millions of people who have been locked out from mainstream economy. Despite very real economic challenges, the 70,000 plus social enterprises currently in existence employ more than 1 million people and contribute more than £18.5bn to the economy. So, what is the outlook for social enterprise over the next 2 years?
 
1. Shift from Private Sector to Social Enterprise
Peter Holbrook, the CEO of Social Enterprise UK, wrote recently,  ‘The social economy is growing fast and presents a huge opportunity for local leaders to build and stimulate local economies that put their constituents’ welfare first.’
2014 will see a significant number of SMEs and private enterprises gravitate towards social enterprise. Already, some SMEs have made the switch and this is proof that a significant proportion of entrepreneurs are eager to kick start socially-oriented enterprises. Social enterprise models will continue to appeal more because of two reasons. First, they allow businesses to make meaningful contribution to communities they are serving without forfeiting revenue, and secondly, they create opportunities where mainstream markets fail.
 
2. Social Enterprise will Outperform SMEs
Believe it or not, social enterprise – business that puts social and/or environmental impact before profit – will outpace the private sector in the next two years. In the last 12 months alone, more than 38% of social enterprises that were surveyed by Social Enterprise UK had higher turnover compared to 29% of SMEs. 57% of social enterprises surveyed predict growth compared to 41% of SMEs. These statistics speaks volumes about the high revenue potential of social-oriented business initiatives in the next two years.
 
3. More Women and Young People will embrace Social Enterprise
It’s almost certain that the next two years will see a great number of women and youth venture into social enterprise. Women and youth from marginalised communities have shown a greater appeal for social enterprise than their counterparts in mainstream communities. Most women and young people want to seize the window of opportunity opened by social enterprise to cushion themselves against the effects of economic downturns while delivering social impact in the communities that they are located.
 
4. Government Funding and Grants will Increase
From the financial perspective, the outlook for social enterprise in 2014 remains positive because of two reasons. Firstly, the government has in the past year keenly supported social-oriented business initiatives financially. The announcement during Budget 2014 regarding Social Investment Tax Relief is a recent example of this support. Yes, the government is bankrolling on social enterprises to absorb the large number of young people and women who have been locked out of mainstream business. Secondly, more and more banks are issuing grants to support social enterprise initiatives that create opportunities for women and young people in marginalised communities.
We hope you find this information useful. What does the future hold specifically for your Social Enterprise? We would love to hear your plans. You can let us know by tweeting @hubwestminster or emailing us via hello@hubwestminster.net
 
Best wishes
 
Impact Hub Westminster Team