Social Enterprise Works

Social Enterprise Works has been providing guidance and practical business development assistance to prospective, newly-formed and established social enterprises since 1993.

In our early years, we were known as Bristol Area Community Enterprise Network (BACEN). However in November 2006 we changed this to our current, more self-explanatory, name.

Over the last 20 years we’ve harnessed the potential of individuals and community groups all over Bristol. Together we’ve been able to create, develop and sustain successful social enterprises that improve the lives and environment of communities across the city.

University of the West of England

UWE Bristol is one of Britain’s most popular universities. We have around 30,000 students and 3,500 staff which makes us the largest provider of Higher Education in the South West of England.Students come to UWE from all parts of the UK, as well as a significant and growing number of international students from over 140 countries worldwide.

Advancing knowledge, inspiring people and transforming futures is at the heart of everything that we do. Our strategy for 2020 sets out a confident and ambitious future for UWE Bristol and focuses on our ultimate goal – transforming futures – through our research, learning and teaching and knowledge exchange.

Last year we received funding and support from both UnLtd and Santander to fund 34 social entrepreneurs and 10 commercial entrepreneurs, as well as supporting 13 student enterprise internships and 10 self-employed placements. We have also had successful event such as Start-up Drinks Bristol, which works to bring professional, entrepreneurs, academics and students together, allowing them to make connections with like-minded people in an informal environment.

UWE Bristol is only one of ten universities successful in gaining funding through UnLtd and HEFCE for scale and growing social entrepreneurs, as well as being successful in getting one of eight cluster bids working together to build a national ‘ecosystem’ of support for social entrepreneurs through new partnerships with University of Bristol and Social Enterprise Works.

University of Bristol

The University’s links with business and industry are many and varied. The University works in partnership with companies on research projects; it spins out companies from its research; it promotes and teaches entrepreneurship; it devises programmes of study in conjunction with the private sector; it hosts business events through its Conference Office; it offers Continuing Professional Development programmes; and it is a key part of the network of business and other organisations working with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership to increase the competitiveness of Bristol and the region.

Research and Enterprise Development (RED) supports, and works closely alongside the academic, student and entrepreneur communities to help sustain, and grow, activities that create the culture, reputation, and impact that define the University of Bristol. We do this through our multi-disciplinary teams of professionals who use their expertise and knowledge to provide advice, guidance and support across the broad, diverse and fascinating research and enterprise found at the University. We constantly strive to add value in all we do, and contribute to what makes the University the magnificent place it is.

RED works closely with a range of funding bodies, organisations and businesses, both established and start-ups, and are often the entry portal to the University. Whether you’re an organisation looking to work with us, a world leading academic, an early career researcher, or a student entrepreneur, you’ll find RED has much of the expertise and knowledge needed to help you achieve your aspirations.


HEFCE distributes public money for higher education to universities and colleges in England, and ensures that this money is used to deliver the greatest benefit to students and the wider public.

Our core values are openness, impartiality, fairness and objectivity. And in everything we do, we strive to safeguard the collective interests of students.

This includes monitoring that universities and colleges are financially healthy, that their courses are good quality, and that everyone with the potential to enter higher education has a fair chance to do so.


UnLtd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and offers the largest such network in the world. UnLtd resources hundreds of individuals each year through its core Awards programme. UnLtd operates a unique model by investing directly in individuals and offering a complete package of resources; from Awards of funding, to ongoing advice, networking and practical support.

UnLtd supports individuals who have their ventures firmly rooted in delivering positive social change. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Harding and Harding 2008) found that there were 1.7m people leading social organisations in the UK.

UnLtd resource community entrepreneurs to start-up; support those with more established ventures to scale up; and are committed to developing an eco-system of support to make it easier for those who need help to find it.


CAN is a registered charity trading as a social enterprise and is committed to helping other charities and social ventures thrive, grow and maximize their impact. They strive to achieve that by offering business support, capital and flexible, affordable office space and a lot more besides. CAN’s vision is of a social economy buoyed by a thriving social enterprise market. CAN’s mission is to help social entrepreneurs achieve it, providing hot desk opportunities, support and much more.

To build sustainable businesses, social entrepreneurs need business support, experience from their peers, capital funds and even space to grow. That’s where CAN helps through CAN Invest services and CAN Mezzanine, charity office space.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs

The School for Social Entrepreneurs was founded in 1997 by Michael Young. Its mission is to address inequalities and social exclusion by supporting social entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to transform their talent into real social outcomes, in the form of sustainable solutions to poverty and disadvantage in communities. It does this through the use of action-learning based programmes of personal and organisational development.

SSE supports individuals to realise their potential and to establish, scale and sustain, social enterprises and social businesses across the UK, Australia, Ireland and Canada.

Bristol & Bath Social Enterprise Network

Social Enterprise in our region is growing – making a difference to environment, economy, and community – despite the challenging economic climate. Initial mapping of the sector in our region has already identified 10,000 people are employed in 600 enterprises generating a turnover of nearly £400 million.

Together we can build on the considerable work so far and put our City-Region on the map for Social Enterprise. Whether you’re in Abbots Leigh, Lawrence Hill or Yate – this network is for you!

If you’re running an existing social enterprise, a budding social entrepreneur, supporting social enterprises or just interested in taking business beyond profit – we want to support your work.