The text books call a Social Enterprise (or social firm) "a profit-making venture set-up to tackle a social need". Many commercial businesses might consider themselves to have a social objective, but a Social Enterprise is unique because their social purpose is central to what they are. Rather than maximising shareholder value, their aim is to generate profit to further their social purpose.
Some commentators describe this as "not-for-profit" as their profits are not distributed to financial investors, this is a little misleading as it implies they are unbusiness-like. It is better said that profits of the business is used to support its social aim or that the business itself accomplishes the social aim through its operation.
However, there are some misleading interpretations of the term "Social Enterprise" particularly new businesses who try to ride a wave of popular support for Social Enterprises in the community. However, despite the owners best motives and goals to establish a business based on meeting social outcome they can't truly be called a Social Enterprises as there is no binding or legal structures to ensure their profits continue to support that social purpose long-term and so it is best to discriminate between what is a "socially responsible business" and a Social Enterprise.
Consequently, Social Enterprises must have a legal structure that ensures the long-term support of its social purpose. For example an "Incorporated Association" or "Limited by guarantee" company where the social purpose is enshrined in their constitution disallowing profits to be syphoned away for other purposes.
SA Group Enterprises establish businesses in order to provide employment where the businesses generate a major proportion of operating revenue from the sale of products and services. Funding received from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) are not a business subsidy and are strictly linked to training and support costs. In reality such funding could is really a "fee-for-service" like any other, as they are open to anyone to apply regardless of structure private, public or non-government provided they meet the requirements for tender and comply with regular quality and reporting audits.