One in four British entrepreneurs starting up a business with a social purpose

Over one in four people starting their own business is motivated by a social purpose or cause, according to new findings.

New research from the National Enterprise Network in partnership with UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs reveals that 27% of people approaching enterprise organisations such as Wenta for support are starting up a business with a social or community purpose.

The research shows that social entrepreneurs – people tackling social problems by finding entrepreneurial solutions – are becoming increasingly mainstream, and highlights the need for enterprise organisations to make sure relevant support is available to entrepreneurs motivated by social objectives. Specialist support for social entrepreneurs could include information on legal forms, access to social finance, and using volunteers. While mainstream enterprise organisations are supporting social entrepreneurs, a significant proportion of business people seeking support (9%) said they were not able to access the support they needed to develop and sustain social objectives within their businesses.

Cliff Prior, CEO of UnLtd, commented,

“There’s a swell of people stepping up to tackle some of society’s greatest problems with entrepreneurial solutions – but they need the right support to start well and thrive. We want enterprise organisations to ensure social entrepreneurs get off to the best start, and this research shows that even more can be done to ensure that potential social entrepreneurs can access the support they need.”

UnLtd believes the Government also has a role to ensure social entrepreneurs are signposted to the right support. The 2015 Conservative Party manifesto included a pledge to “give more people the power and support to start their own social enterprise”. Today Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise Anna Soubry MP met with a group of social entrepreneurs and enterprise organisations, at Broxtowe Town Hall in her constituency, to hear about their experiences.

On the findings, Anna Soubry MP commented,

“The UK is ranked first for policies that support social investment and I am pleased see research published today reinforcing this. I was delighted to meet local social entrepreneurs and interested to hear this is now reflected in the way people approach business.”

Dawn Whiteley, CEO of the National Enterprise Network added,

“Our membership has had the view for some time that there is a growing number of those they are helping to start a business who are motivated by much more than just profit – we were therefore delighted to work with UnLtd on this research and even more pleased that our anecdotal experience has been borne out by the research findings. We now want to work with Government and others to ensure those entrepreneurs, as well as any others, get all the help and support they need to give them the very best chance of creating businesses which flourish for the longer term”


Notes to editors:

About UnLtd

UnLtd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and offers the largest such network in the world. It supports more than 1,000 individuals each year through its core Awards programme.

UnLtd puts people at the heart of what it does and reaches out to find passionate, talented, resourceful people who are determined to tackle the key issues facing society. Its focus is on helping greater numbers of people to start up as social entrepreneurs, enabling those who want - and can - to scale up their impact.

UnLtd aims to develop collaboration and networks that will create an ecosystem of support, through delivering support to social entrepreneurs in partnership with social investors and delivery partners. It operates a unique model by investing directly in individuals and offering a complete package of resources; from awards of funding between £500 and £100,000 to ongoing advice, networking and practical support.

For more information about the support offered by UnLtd go to

Twitter: @UnLtd Facebook: YouTube:

About National Enterprise Network

National Enterprise Network is the only membership body in England representing those working in the enterprise support sector. NEN believes our members are crucial to Britain’s economic success. Our role is to support their work, promote the results they achieve, and connect them with opportunities for even greater success. NEN membership is traditionally, but not exclusively, made up of not-for-profit enterprise support organisations providing independent and impartial advice, training and mentoring to new and emerging businesses. The organisation represents a variety of enterprise support organisations; including enterprise agencies, Chambers of Commerce, local authorities and other specialist providers.

For more information about NEN:

About National Enterprise Network

National Enterprise Network’s Mission is to represent, unite and support all organisations who are passionate about inspiring and encouraging enterprise. We support our membership by: Representing their interests to government and others in the public and private sector, showcasing a unique national network of credible, quality assured enterprise support organisations. Promoting the successes they achieve and demonstrating the value they add to local communities and the wider economy. Connecting them to people and projects inside and outside the Network, to share valuable knowledge, skills and opportunities for even greater success.

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