How to set up a social enterprise: Alison's story

Alison is 23. She lives in Edinburgh and founded Lilypads, a social enterprise which manufactures and sells reusable sanitary pads. Find out how she started her own business. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I never thought I'd be running a business!

  • A trip to Kenya as a volunteer changed Alison's career path
  • She learnt that many girls in rural communities have little to no access to sanitary products and were not taught about their menstrual cycles in school
  • This has a big impact because some girls will miss school during their periods due to lack of sanitary products
  • In response, Alison founded Lilypads, a social enterprise that manufactures and sells reusable sanitary pads and provides menstrual health education.

Alison's career path

What to expect when you run a social enterprise

Alison runs a social enterprise, that’s a business with a social or environmental mission. Lilypads reinvests money they make by selling their products back into the business; this is helping communities in Kenya and the UK.

If you want to set up a business that has social, charitable or community-based objectives, you can set up as a:

A community interest company (CIC) is a special kind of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders. To set up a CIC, you need to apply to Companies House. The CIC regulator has guidance on CICs, including the forms you need to set one up.

You can find more resources and examples of other social enterprises from Social Enterprise UK, Inspire2Enterprise and UnLtd.

This information is a guide (source: GOV.UK)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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