Social enterprises in the Greater Birmingham area employ over 14,600 people and turnover at least £180m a year

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Research just published by the GBSLEP (March 2014)  offers a level of detail about the social enterprise sector that has never previously been available, underlining just how important the sector is — socially and economically.

Size of the sector

There are an estimated 450-500 social enterprises in Greater Birmingham, with a combined turnover of at least £180m and employing over 14,600 people.

Social enterprise is a growth sector

Staff levels  increased by almost 11% during the period 2011-2013 — meaning that about 1,500 jobs were created. Over 72% expect to create additional jobs in 2014 – with a significant proportion of these being for young people. 73% reported an increase in turnover on the previous year and over 67% expect to see growth in 2014.


Trading is now overwhelmingly the greatest source of income for social enterprises. Roughly 86% of social enterprises’ income is earned from trading as opposed to about 14% from grants, donations and ‘other sources’.

Social enterprise is an innovative sector

The introduction of new products or services is often regarded as a proxy for business innovation. Over 78% of social enterprises reported introducing a new service or product in the preceding twelve months.

Social value

Social enterprises combine trading, social purpose and voluntary effort to deliver a unique blend of social and economic impact. While there is no single, definitive measure of social value, the survey revealed that social enterprises in the GBSLEP area:

  • Invest over £36m a year in achieving their social mission.
  • And are supported by over 2,100 volunteers who donate about 450,000 person-hours a year –- time which is worth another £4.73m a year valued at the average West Midlands hourly wage.


 More detail on the GBSLEP website.

 Download the brochure showcasing the findings of the report and case studies here.

 Download the full survey findings here.

 Follow the links under ‘About Social Enterprise’ on the BSSEC website  for more information about social enterprises in Birmingham, social enterprise case studies, and the Digbeth Social Enterprise Qtr.

Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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