Social enterprises 'growing strongly'
The UK's social enterprises - businesses trading for social or environmental purposes - bucked the recent recession, a report has said.
Turnover at 100 of the largest such firms grew by 79% on average in the year to March, said the business information service Social Enterprise.
The report, which covered 350 firms in total, said those in south-east England saw the biggest growth, up 56%.
The East Midlands was the worst performing, with growth of only 15%.
Examples of social enterprises include the Big Issue, Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen, and the fair-trade chocolate company Divine Chocolate.
Firms in the environment, recycling and renewables industry reported the highest growth rates.
Social Enterprise, together with Royal Bank of Scotland, compiled the data from information provided by 350 social businesses across the UK.
It was used to form the first publication of an index tracking the growth of the 100 top social businesses in the UK, the RBS SE100.
"The RBS SE100 is a hugely important tool for proving the success and potential of social enterprise," said Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society.
"Already it shows phenomenal growth which will boost confidence in the sector and open doors to private finance."