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 information on What is social enterprise
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.
Find out more about setting up a CIC on GOV.UK.
Other legal structures for a social enterprise include:
Find out more about the characteristics of these different legal structures.
Find out more 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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