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Community Enterprise


A community enterprise is a specialized form of community-based organization that has both commercial and social aims and objectives. Any surpluses that a community enterprise generates, will be principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximize profits for shareholders and owners.


Community enterprises come in all shapes and forms and range from resident-run shops to developing renewable energy projects, from running a day-care centre to managing community woodlands that sell products and provide training and employment to local people. A community enterprise's main aims are to create sustainable wealth and social benefit for the community.


Community enterprise is a significant sub-sector within the wider social enterprise sector. It shares the same definition as social enterprise: an organization trading for social purpose with profits reinvested rather than going to shareholders. But a community enterprise is more specific in that it is based in, and provides benefits to a particular local neighbourhood, community or identity.  A community enterprise is owned and managed by members of that community.


Community enterprises share the following characteristics:

  • The enterprise is community-led, meaning it is owned and controlled by the people who live in a defined locality or who share other forms of common interest.
  • The lead partner is a charity, social enterprise, not-for-profit or member (co-operative) organization. The governing documents provide that on dissolution or winding up, the organization’s property and income will not be distributed amongst its members, but will be transferred to another charity or similar organization.
  • The enterprise is locally based, benefiting a specific geographical place, and is inclusive of all in the community.
  • The aims and objectives of the enterprise are a direct response to local social and economic need or opportunity.
  • The enterprise has a sustainable business plan and aims to become viable beyond grants or public funding.
  • Philanthropic and welfare approaches by themselves are not enough - enterprise is necessary for sustained change. This means trading for social purpose - where surpluses are reinvested in further enterprise development and for community benefit.
  • Community ownership of assets (buildings, land and other assets) can build business capacity and achieve community goals.


Some community enterprises go further and develop a range of different enterprises, products, services and projects to meet a range of different social, economic and environmental needs in their community. This type of community enterprise is called a development trust.


Community enterprise companies are a recent phenomena. Significant growth in its application by social groups and development agencies has mainly occurred since the early 1980s.


All over the UK, community-led initiatives are already achieving success in their local neighbourhoods, villages and town centres, and inspiring others to create lasting change. There are organizations that help set up, develop and run a community enterprise, like Development Trust Association Scotland, Community Enterprise or Locality.  Contact them for more info.


Sources: DTA Wales, Locality, Big Lottery Fund, Caledonia and Wikipedia



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Type of initiative Company, Other (specify): Community Enterprise
Field of work Agriculture, Trade, Services, other, Other (non-profit)
Date of commencement Recently
Founder(s) --
Legal form Charity, social enterprise, cooperative or not-for-profit
Continent Europe
Country United Kingdom
City All over the UK
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Community-led enterprise, sustainability, social benefit, social enterprise, social purpose,
Publications Surveys, case studies, briefings
More information Twitter, Facebook

Contact person(s)


Contact information

Name Locality
Address 33 Corsham Street
Zip/postal code N1 6DR
Place London
Country United Kingdom
Phone +44 0345 458 8336



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