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What is a community enterprise?

Discover more about the different types of community enterprises
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Community enterprises come in all shapes and forms and range from resident-run shops to pop-up broadband schemes and community woodlands that sell products and provide training and employment to local people.

They share the following characteristics: 

  • The enterprise is community-led, meaning it is endorsed by, or engaging directly with, local people
  • The lead partner is a charity, social enterprise, not-for-profit or member (co-operative) organisation. The governing documents provide that on dissolution or winding up, the organisation’s property and income will not be distributed amongst its members but will be transferred to another charity or similar organisation
  • The enterprise is locally based, benefiting a specific geographical place, and is inclusive of all in the community
  • The aims and objectives of the enterprise are a direct response to local social and economic need or opportunity
  • The enterprise has a sustainable business plan and aims to become viable beyond grants or public funding
  • All over England, community-led initiatives already achieving success in their local neighbourhoods, villages and town centres, and inspiring others to create lasting change.
All over England, community-led initiatives already achieving success in their local neighbourhoods, villages and town centres, and inspiring others to create lasting change. Below are a few examples:

The Community Hydroelectric Scheme

Torrs Hydro, New Mills, Derbyshire

The Community Hydroelectric SchemeTorrs Hydro is a micro hydroelectric scheme, owned by the community, in New Mills, Derbyshire. It is the first community owned micro hydroelectric scheme. Initial funding was raised through grant funding, a loan and a community share offer. The electricity produced is bought by the local Cooperative Food Superstore, and any surplus is sold through the national grid. The project has also boosted tourism and 60% of construction costs were contracted to local businesses.


The Community Festival

 East London Community Land Trust, London

East London Community Land Trust exists to deliver permanently affordable housing in east London. To raise awareness amongst local people of St Clements Hospital, the site of the Community Land Trust, they held the Shuffle Festival in August 2013. The main event was a film festival curated by Danny Boyle who formerly lived nearby.


Pop-up Broadband Project

Lyme Regis Development Trust, Dorset

As part of their work in the community the Trust run an annual Fossil Festival in partnership with the Natural History Museum, attracting 20,000 visitors each year. They wanted to explore how digital technology could generate new revenue from tourists who visit their World Heritage Site Jurassic Coastline throughout the year. Our main aim was to provide a high speed connectivity solution for the festival weekend, and to that end it was a great success. With help from Guifi Barcelona and the Quick Mesh Project, they built the largest free and open wireless network in the UK along three miles of Jurassic coast.  


The Community-Owned Woodland

Hill Holt Wood, Lincolnshire

Hill Holt Wood is community-owned, runs a cafe and manufactures and sells bespoke woodland products. A public woodland operating as a social enterprise with a £1m turnover, it provides services such as countryside and forestry management, as well as education and training to 14-19 year olds and adult education courses. The Wood Hall building is available for private hire, and architecture/ design consultancy Design:hhw also operate from the premises.    


The Community Pub 

 The Own Crown Pub, Cumbria

'The Old Crown' is a public house in the small village of Hesket Newmarket, situated just inside the northern edge of the Lake District National Park, nestling in the Caldbeck fells. It is the only public house in the village. 150 members from this small Cumbrian community purchased the pub a couple of years after buying Hesket Newmarket Brewery based behind the pub.  The pub co-operative is on a sound financial footing, and recently financed the building of a new kitchen and dining room.


The Communiversity

Alt Valley Community Trust, Croxeth 

The Communiversity was created by a group of local activists who purchased an ‘older people’s home’ and transformed it into a lifelong learning centre. The Communiversity is the home of the library, most adult learning classes and the Communi-café. We have a modern ICT suite, a recording studio and, of course, the venue is used regularly as a conference facility. Community engagement meetings take place once a month and provide a forum for partners and local services to exchange ideas and best practices to improve outcomes for the North Eastern Communities.


The Community-Owned Football Club

 FC United, Manchester 

FC United of Manchester is a Community Benefit Society football club owned and governed by its members and supporters. It has three full time staff and over 300 volunteers. The club has raised around £6m towards a new community stadium, including £1.8m form Community Shares and another £400k from fundraising.