Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation

Get started on the pathway to social enterprise good practice and excellence

Demonstrate your commitment to social enterprise principles by working towards recognised standards of good practice.

The Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation has been developed specifically to support aspiring social enterprises to get started on the pathway to social enterprise excellence.

Through this entry-level accreditation, you can access tailored support to achieve sector-agreed standards of good practice in social enterprise. All for an annual fee of just £150 + VAT.


The Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation enables aspiring social enterprises to prove they are working towards recognised standards of good practice.

Applicants are supported on their journey to social enterprise good practice and excellence.

What are the benefits?

Prove your commitment to social enterprise principles

By displaying the Aspiring Social Enterprise badge, you can demonstrate how you are standing up to the scrutiny of external assessment to work towards recognised standards of good practice.

We will support you to get started on the pathway to achieving social enterprise good practice and excellence.


Receive tailored support

Benefit from a tailored service to support your journey to becoming an accredited social enterprise.

We will conduct an annual review of your progress towards achieving the Social Enterprise Mark and provide support and advice on meeting this recognised standard of good practice.


Gain useful feedback

We will provide feedback and advice to enable you to understand how your organisation can meet the good practice criteria defined by the Social Enterprise Mark. This will hopefully provide useful considerations for future development.

This helps to improve your organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness as a developing social enterprise.


Support to measure and articulate your social impact

In supporting you to work towards achieving the Social Enterprise Mark, we offer tailored advice and guidance to enable you to get started on measuring and articulating your social impact.

Our social impact questions are designed to help you think about the social impact you create, and to communicate this clearly and succinctly. 


Access our unique international network of accredited social enterprises

Share your news with our extensive international audience – we publish a weekly news bulletin featuring updates from our international network of accredited social enterprises. We can also share your news on our website and via our social media channels.

You can also benefit from discounted rates for our conference, which provides valuable networking opportunities. 



Do I qualify?

This accreditation is aimed at businesses who may have only recently become incorporated, that have not necessarily started trading (or have just begun to), and those that may have been running for some time but have been grant dependent, reliant on loans or investment income.

To qualify for the Aspiring Social Enterpise accreditation, you should meet the following criteria:

Be primarily dedicated to social objectives

Applicants must have clearly defined social/environmental objectives, which should be articulated within the legal objects of the organisation, e.g. Articles of Association.


Be an independent business

The business must be independently registered, with no public or government agency or body, or other private, corporate bodies, holding decision making control of the organisation.


Be planning to become sustainable through trading income

Applicants must be aiming to earn 50% or more of their income from trading within 3 years, and be able to demonstrate how they plan to achieve this.

As a minimum, an organisation must answer a few short questions describing their business plans and broadly confirm their expected sources of income and expenditure for the forthcoming year. If one is available, a copy of a business plan that includes a financial forecast of trading activities can also be submitted.


Commit to dedicating a majority of any annual profit to social purposes

There should be relevant clauses in governing documents, which confirm that the business is trading in support of a clear social/environmental purpose and that a principle proportion (51% or more) of any profit is dedicated to such purposes.


Have an asset lock clause (or similar)

Applicants should have relevant clauses in governing documents, which confirm a commitment that, in the event of dissolution, any residual assets will be distributed towards achieving social objectives.


Have a vision of how social objectives will be achieved

Applicants should be able to describe how they plan to achieve their social objectives. As a minimum they must answer a few short questions describing their business plans, the social beneficiaries and nature of the social outcomes being targeted.

Organisations will eventually be required to answer a set of questions designed to explore their social impact, as part of the transition from being an Aspiring Social Enterprise to achieving full Social Enterprise Mark Holder status.



How do I apply?

Assessment process for Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation

How much does it cost?

Hand with coinsThere is an annual licence fee of £150+VAT. Staged payment plans are available to spread the cost of the licence.

The annual fee entitles you to:

  • tailored feedback to provide benchmarks for future development
  • support in working towards recognised standards of good practice
  • share your news with our extensive online audience
  • discounted rates for our annual conference

Applicants are invoiced up front for the licence fee. In the unlikely event that an application is unsuccessful, the licence fee will be refunded, minus a £100 assessment fee.

International applications will be subject to an additional non-refundable administration fee of £150.

Please note – all fees are subject to regular review.

Next steps



Further information

Need more information? Contact Rachel Fell or call 0345 504 6536 to ask any questions and to find out more about this unique accreditation and how you can apply.