Community Business

Support for Community Businesses in Suffolk

Community business has an essential role to play in ensuring our communities are resilient, inclusive and cohesive.  By their nature, community businesses focus on their particular community and are led by the needs of residents.

In today’s ever changing world, it is not surprising that Suffolk faces challenges aligned to the rest of the nation.  However, due to our geographical make up, the challenges we face are perhaps more complex than some areas nationally.  Suffolk is a large, rural county and has more than double the national average of people living in a rural area.  Alongside this, we also have vast urban areas and coastal communities each with their own needs and service demands.  Suffolk is a fantastic place to live and work and our challenges inspire some incredible individuals and groups in our communities, but there will always be work to do to ensure Suffolk thrives and continues to be the haven it is for those that reside here.

For more information on the importance of Community Business and the role it can play in Suffolk, click here to read what Hannah Reid, Director of Innovation & Business Development here at CAS has to say.

So what is a ‘Community Business’?

Community businesses are a TYPE of organisation.  They are rooted in their local community, responding to local need, driven by and accountable to the local community, and TRADE for the benefit of that community.  They are businesses with social purposes.  All community businesses could be considered Social Enterprises. The term ‘Social Enterprise’ is a TYPE of organisation, NOT a legal form/structure.  Social enterprises are organisations with primarily social purposes which generate revenue through trading and reinvest any surplus back in to the business or the community it serves.  The term ‘Social Enterprise’ has no legal status and is not recognised by HMRC or any other regulatory body.  Any of the following legal forms could be considered a Social Enterprise:

  • Company limited by Guarantee or Shares
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation (if trading for primary purpose)
  • Community Interest Company
  • Community Benefit Society
  • Co-operative
  • Sole traders or Business Partnerships (if primary purpose is social)

However, not all Social Enterprises could be considered Community Businesses as not all Social Enterprises operate in once specific geographical community.

As we at Community Action Suffolk are very aware, the different definitions and terms used in our sector can be confusing, for further clarification, please see our VCSE Sector – definition of terms which attempts to demystify some of the terminology.

How can Community Action Suffolk help Community Businesses?

For 2019, in partnership with MENTA; Community Action Suffolk has received funding to specifically support new and existing Community Businesses in Suffolk from Power to Change and Suffolk County Council.  The first phase of this project is nearing completion and a full research report on current activity in Suffolk will be available soon.  We are now heading in to the second phase to deliver that support direct to communities that are thinking of starting or are already running a community business.

Do keep an eye on this page for further information on workshops, training and resources that may be of use to you, but in the meantime, if you would like some direct support or even just someone to chat an idea through with, please contact laura.butters@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk who will be able to help.