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What is a social enterprise?

What is a Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise carries out social activities while doing business.

The following characteristics must be met in order to call yourself a social enterprise:

Social enterprise in Denmark, there is an agreement that a social enterprise must be defined as a company that:

  • Has a social aim – to do good for individuals or communities
  • Sales products or services – and is not just a project that seeks financial support
  • Reinvests any profits back in the company – shareholders cannot take out dividends
  • Registers as a business with a CVR (VAT) number – it must be a company, not a project or part of the public sector
  • Is democratic and citizen-oriented – it is legitimate in relation to its surroundings

Although many companies have a respected social approach in the community, they are not defined as a social enterprise unless they follow the above characteristics.

Social economic entrepreneur

The entrepreneurs behind a social economic activity are social economic entrepreneurs. A social economic entrepreneur can also spark initiatives within a traditional business or organization.

The definition of a social economic entrepreneur is:

One or more individuals, groups or initiatives that identifies a societal or individual unresolved problem and develop innovative initiatives with a significant social and economic value and manages to engage the civil society as part of their venture.

Social Entrepreneur works in three worlds

It is somewhat more complex to be a social economic entrepreneur than an ordinary entrepreneur.

A leader of a social enterprise must be able to work within the three pillars on which the Danish society is structured around:

The public sector

- We have for several generations decided that the government handles the welfare state. Public institutions follow certain rules and documentation requirements

The business / market

- Private companies produce and sell goods and generate income for individuals and societies

Civil society

– is “free time” where people can express themselves. They play football, engage in political work and make contributions within volunteering organizations.

A traditional entrepreneur only has to relate to the market. 

A social economic entrepreneur must also relate to the rules of the public sector and the unpredictable volunteers from civil society.


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