The term “social enterprise” was first used, at the end of the 1980s, by organisations that promoted the social and labour integration of persons at risk of social and labour exclusion and other similar social activities. The social economy sector has since slowly introduced this term to describe its entities in order to gain recognition by society, and it is working to promote a generally accepted definition of social enterprise’s behaviour based on the principles and values of the social economy (participation, general interest…). According to Article 5 of Spanish Law 5/2011 on the Social Economy, work integration social enterprises and so-called “special employment centres” are part of the social economy, and so are all firms and entities carrying out activities following the values and principles of the social economy sector.
In this context, organisations of the social economy sector also are beginning to use the “social enterprise” concept. In Spain, a debate still exists regarding its exact definition. A mix of perspectives on this concept, with different nuances, can be observed. Besides, the current context of reduced governmental budgets and social services in Spain causes social organisations to adopt new approaches to this term of social enterprise, as this type of organisation is more likely to receive funds from the European Union.