Motivations of social entrepreneurs


Social enterprise is on the rise within the UK; however, research in this area is lacking because social entrepreneurship has only recently come to researchers’ attention. The current consensus requires a social enterprise to have strong social values, to be owned by the community and to have a constraint on its profit distribution. The individuals who set up and run these companies are not just mainstream entrepreneurs, they are considered to be social entrepreneurs, and this paper explores why. The research discussed in this paper was carried out on push and pull motivations of social entrepreneurs within the UK, building on previous work within Israel, Nigeria, South Africa and Ireland. Seven social entrepreneurs from the north of England were interviewed and 10 key motivations were categorised into two push factors and eight pull factors. The two push factors identified were background and social values. The pull factors were identified as the business model, the cause, opportunity recognition, self-motivation, network, personal rewards, lifestyle and non-financial motives. These results suggest that pull motivations are stronger within social entrepreneurs than push motivations. Self-motivation and personal rewards were identified as new motivational factors within social entrepreneurship when compared to existing research, although they had previously been discovered within mainstream entrepreneurs. This research adds to our understanding of social entrepreneurs’ motivations and the increasing trend towards social enterprise. Interviewees were sourced from the north of England and so may not represent the UK as a whole, and this, therefore, could be an opportunity for future research.


Motivation; social enterprise; social entrepreneur; social entrepreneurship; push and pull; United Kingdom.

How to Cite

Humphris, G. K., (2017) “Motivations of social entrepreneurs”, Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research 3(1). doi:


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Gemma Kate Humphris





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