Social entrepreneurship and social enterprise


The creation of more sustainable and resilient societies will require a creative, flexible approach, and an ability to adapt and learn.  Such entrepreneurial behaviour applies not just to the development of businesses and enterprises but includes social and political activity.  Here at SRC we are interested in particular in social entrepreneurship and the development of social enterprises both in the UK and in Africa and South America.

Social enterprise has emerged as a powerful tool for addressing deprivation and some of the most intractable social problems that communities face today.  Our work seeks to generate knowledge and debate on the importance of sustainable business models, legal structures and governance models for social enterprises as they seek to be effective agents of social change in the communities they serve.

Work in this area includes:

  • Illegal and illicit rural enterprise/ entrepreneurship (Professor Gerard McElwee); current work on plant theft in Scotland

  • The charcoal value chain in Zambia and the development of biodiesel from recycled cooking oil (Dr Julia Meaton)
    Research is being undertaken jointly with academics from Copperstone University in Zambia on two areas: understanding the value chain of charcoal production and the identification of interventions that might mitigate the impacts of this practice; and the potential for bio-diesel production from restaurant waste oil, and how this can be used for transportation in Kitwe, Zambia.

  • Social Value Implementation Project (Dr Fiona Cheetham and Dr Walter Mswaka)
    This research sought to develop a greater understanding of the marketplace within Kirklees, with a specific focus on determining the capacity of (1) Private Sector and (2) Social Enterprises/Voluntary and Community Sector organisations to undertake Kirklees council contracts under the proposed Social Value Implementation Project.

  • Social enterprise as a key policy instrument (Dr Walter Mswaka)
    Following the signing of a cooperative agreement between the University of Huddersfield and the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC), Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 2015, a number of collaborative research projects have been initiated. Research focuses on comparative analysis of social enterprise development and practices in the UK and Brazil and includes:
    • Waste pickers and recycling: social enterprises involved in recycling are now recognised as a legitimate business in Belo Horizonte. Part of the jigsaw of waste management operators in the city, it provides poor and homeless people with employment opportunities.
    • Urban Farming: with over 80% of the Latin American population living in cities, the Brazilian government, businesses and third sector organizations are seeking alternative ways to increase food production and improve the quality of life in cities. The research explores and compares the nature and practice of social enterprises involved in urban agricultural activities in the UK and Brazil.
    • Prisoner rehabilitation through social enterprise: Work with the Association for the Protection and Assistance of the Convicted (APAC), a faith based penal method that seeks a more humane way to punish and reintegrate prisoners back into Brazilian society. Research focuses on the development and nurturing of entrepreneurship skills amongst prisoners to enable them to better prepare themselves for life after release.