Migrant women stepping into ethnic catering; homeless men employed to take care of bees producing honey for sale; young people on the edge getting microcredit funding to start social businesses; or former criminals joining forces to create social and economic structures for an honest lifestyle. These initiatives capture the transformative power of social enterprise and might indicate how social enterprises have the potential to make a difference for people and societies. The Nordic countries represent an interesting case. Social enterprises and co-operatives played a significant part in paving the way for the Nordic solicaristic welfare state.
As the welfare state grew, civil society organizations and co-operatives lost ground, to a certain extent. But in recent decades, the welfare state has been restructured and, simultaneously, the concepts social entrepreneurship and social enterprises have gained attention. The Nordic context, with extensive public welfare structures and a high degree of citizens’ participation in public affairs, might affect the emergence of social entrepreneurship and social enterprises.