The Hidden Revolution

During a session of the Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 which took place in Edinburgh on 14 September 2018, many have been among the social entrepreneurs and impact investors to call for an immediate action to contrast current trends including raising political extremism and climate change to reshape capitalism.


For instance, Lord Victor Adebowale, CEO of the UK social enterprise Turning Point and chair of Social Enterprise UK, urged:

I believe that social enterprise is the future of business. But we are running out of time. We are standing on a burning platform – not just economically, but environmentally and politically.

Dai Powell, CEO of the UK’s social enterprise HCT Group, asked:

Are we playing at the right scale? I don’t think so. The next ten years of social enterprise has to become much more significant.


US and UK have massively invested over time in the development of the industry and this has paid off, so far.  However, there is still a lot to do to accelerate the growth of the sector, starting off from a correct understanding of its dimensions.

In this regard, a fresh analysis provided by Social Enterprise UK, The Hidden Revolution, found out that in the UK there are 100,000 social enterprises worth £60 billion to the UK economy and employing 2 million people. This represents 3% of UK GDP, three times the size of the agriculture  industry, and 5% of employment – as many jobs as the creative industries sector.

Compared to previous estimations, the new calculation appears to be 5% greater than the previuos ones.


In commenting the new study, independent economist, Dr Rebecca Harding, claimed that:

These businesses deliver vital services to millions of people every day (…) our approach can be built, modified and improved upon in future to provide a better understanding of the contribution of these companies to the UK, so they are no longer underestimated.

The importance of this is linked to the effectiveness of any future Government’s actions including:

  • Using public procurement policy to support social enterprise through strengthening the Social Value Act
  • Amending company law so that businesses have to give more regard to their social and environmental responsibilities
  • Consider how the tax system can incentivise businesses which have a social as well as an economic impact on society
  • Embedding social enterprise in the school curriculum so that young people are aware of the option of starting or working for a social enterprise


Rosie Ginday, Founder of the social enterprise Miss Macaroon, commented:

Social enterprises are quietly revolutionising our economy and offering a new way to do business. They are doing this through being true to the values, innovating and allowing a diverse range of business leaders to come to the fore.

Karen Lynch, Chief Executive of social enterprise Belu concluded:

Any business can make a difference, but they need the support and encouragement of government to have the biggest possible impact.