The ability of rural communities to take action to develop a social enterprise has never been more important. Whether it’s taking over a pub or setting up a renewable energy scheme, communities can work together to provide services tailored to their needs.
A social enterprise is a formally constituted group or business which trades primarily for social purposes, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profits, and exists for the benefit of the community.
It is one method through which a service, such as village shop or post office for example, can be developed and run by local people, creating new jobs and contributing to the overall rural economy.
There are a range of legal and financial models that can fit the local circumstances required but these require expert guidance to ensure the correct approach is taken.
Support and guidance is crucial to the success of these ventures. The ACRE Network has a long track record of supporting community entrepreneurship, the management of community assets and encouraging communities to engage with service providers.
From village appraisals and design statements in the 1990s, the Quirk Review & Asset Transfer in 2007 to Parish Plans and more recently Community Planning, rural communities continue to find ways to provide for their own needs.
Together with seven partners, ACRE is delivering a Village SOS Learning, Outreach and Engagement campaign for the Big Lottery Fund, which helps communities to help each other to start up social enterprises.