What is a social enterprise?

What is a social enterprise?


Social enterprises come in all shapes and sizes – what they have in common is a deep desire to make positive social change. This could be giving opportunities to disadvantaged people, creating better and safer communities or protecting the environment. Or, in the case of We Make Good – all three.  

So if social enterprise is a business with a mission to make the world a better place – what makes it different from a charity? The answer that social enterprises work alongside consumers to make positive change. This means that behind what they do is a business model that ensures positive change can be sustained over time. Like us, they may be a charity as well!

Social enterprise is  becoming an increasing big economic player in many countries – a reflection that doing something good for the planet and each other is a big motivator for many. In Scotland / Italy. In Ireland the social enterprise sector is developing, and its estimated that it could contribute 40,000 jobs or over €2 billion to the Irish economy[1]. We Make Good, aims to be part of this growth. A big reason behind our decision to take on this extra challenge (we all already worked for a social enterprise called Quality Matters), is that we saw a need for a business, design, and marketing supports to assist many emerging social enterprises in Ireland maximise their impact.

We are delighted to provide a way for Irish and international consumers to connect with the talent of the makers working in the social enterprises whose products we help create and sell. Many of the makers are on their journey from places of significant disadvantage to becoming leaders in their communities. As a society we need and love stories of triumph in the face of extreme hardship. These stories remind us what we are all capable of. In many ways they tell us something about what it is to be human. Behind many of our makers is just such a hero’s story. Whether this involves travelling as a refugee to Ireland to provide a better life for her children, overcoming addiction, against the odds breaking away from gang crime, or developing finely tuned craft talents despite a disability, which meant other people said that it couldn’t be done. The social enterprises which We Make Good works with know that these journeys are made only with amazing personal effort, they also understand the supports required to help people when the journey gets really tough. This story, told in different ways all over Ireland, is why we love social entrepreneurs and social enterprise.

Social enterprises work because they make something beautiful or useful (or do both) and do it in a way which creates a better society. Customers who realise that the story behind a product is something really important, and that every time they shop they are making a decision for the world they want, are key to the success of social enterprise. We hope you see yourself in this story, and as well as seeing our products as beautiful Irish design, view each of our products as being a symbol of hope, and connectedness.


Caroline Gardner