What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is a rapidly growing movement within the higher education (HE) sector. The University of Manchester is one of 56 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) which took part in a £2 million HE support initiative, funded by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and delivered by UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

The University of Manchester successfully led a pioneering programme to place social entrepreneurship at the heart of University culture and infrastructure. Last year we awarded over £42,000 to Social Entrepreneurs within the University of Manchester and were recognised for our work in supporting and developing social enterprise innovation at the University by winning the ‘Outstanding HEI Supporting Social Entrepreneurship Award’ at the UnLtd National Conference held  in London on 17th July.

The University of Manchester has also recently been successful in securing Phase 3 funding from the UnLtd HE Support Programme. This funding will help us to maintain the momentum of our Social Enterprise Competition and continue to build an effective eco-system for the development and growth of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise activity within the University of Manchester.

Social enterprises are businesses which exist to address social or environmental need. Rather than maximising profit for shareholders or owners, profits are reinvested into the community or back into the business. It’s this which makes social enterprise the most exciting and inspiring business movement in the world.

Benefits of social enterprise to academics, staff and students:

  • Impact – Social enterprise can be used as a way for academics to support and evidence Impact delivery by applying their research into active community engagement
  • Engagement – Be a vehicle for engaging with relevant companies, charities, non-government organisations etc. for potential research utilising a social enterprise
  • Employability – Social enterprise enhances the student experience as it helps improve employability and has direct educational benefits
  • Alternative Income Generation – Rather than a ‘commercial’ route, a social enterprise offers an alternate way to generate income for reinvestment into research activities
  • Social Conscience – Record levels of graduate unemployment coupled with a growing social conscience amongst ‘Generation Y’ have fuelled a rise in the number of students and graduates setting up social enterprises
  • Innovation – Social enterprise can help deliver or extend research outcomes in innovative new ways through working with new contacts and networks
  • Reputation – Supporting social entrepreneurs in higher education not only improves employability and academic studies, it also assists the University’s reputation in its locality.