Social enterprises, an economic force for building more inclusive societies? Evidence from the SEFORЇS study

Marieke Huysentruyt, Ute Stephan

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Social enterprises are organisations that act entrepreneurially through generating revenues from the sales of products or services and that have a primary social mission. Many see social enterprises as having transformative economic and societal impacts, particularly towards the creation of more inclusive societies. Yet others have more negative, sceptical views. To date this debate is surprisingly uninformed by high-quality evidence from a cross-country perspective. This policy brief presents insights into the scale and scope of social enterprises based on the SEFORЇS study - the worldwide largest panel study of social enterprises. The SEFORЇS study is unique in that it provides in-depth, rigorous data and on representative samples of over 1000 social enterprises in seven EU countries (Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom), as well as China and Russia. Drawing on this unique database, this policy brief focusses on insights into:
(1) The economic significance of social enterprises by mapping key indicators such as their revenues, surpluses/profits, productivity, employment generation and growth expectations, and
(2) Social enterprises’ contributions towards social inclusion by charting indicators such as who social enterprises support, the number of beneficiaries, the scope of employment opportunities they facilitate access to for their beneficiaries, as well as the number of volunteering opportunities they provide.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBrussels/Birmingham
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

The report is available for free download from


  • social entrepreneurs
  • social entrepreneurship
  • sustainability
  • social mission
  • European Union
  • Russia
  • China
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden


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