The number of social enterprises in the UK is growing at almost twice the rate of other types of business, according to Claire Dove, chair of the Social Enterprise Coalition.
Giving evidence to MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the big society, Dove said the SEC had surveyed the state of social enterprise and found extremely positive results.
"There’s been an explosion in the number of social enterprises," she said. "The proportion is nearly twice that of small and medium-sized enterprises.
"And it’s not the usual suspects. It’s more women and more people from black communities. Most social enterprises are concentrated in the poorest communities."
Dove said social enterprises that traded with the general public were performing much better than those that contracted primarily with the government, which were struggling because of a lack of capital and difficulty managing payment-by-results contracts.
Many of those contracting with government, she said, had told the coalition that they would issue redundancy notices over the next 12 months.
A spokeswoman for the SEC said it would publish the full results of the survey next month.