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Essence (Exeter)

About the network

ESSENCE is an active peer-support network for (aspiring) social enterprises and those identifying themselves with the social enterprise sector. ESSENCE is at the heart of the Exeter social enterprise movement, infrastructure and community.

Our primary aim is to facilitate the development of our members’ businesses and the cohesion between the different players in the Exeter social enterprise sector. It is our vision to have a flourishing social enterprise sector in the Exeter area, in which the general public and local businesses:

  • have more awareness & knowledge about local social enterprises
  • buy more products & services from local social enterprises

ESSENCE CONNECTS: ESSENCE will provide opportunities for its members to build relationships with each other, and will actively liaise between its members and members and other organisations.

ESSENCE SUPPORTS: ESSENCE will signpost members to available business support, and will create opportunities for members to grow their businesses at our own events.

ESSENCE REPRESENTS: ESSENCE will advocate and be a voice for Exeter’s social enterprises, influencing strategically on their behalf. We do this by providing the following for our members:

  • regular networking and business support events
  • sharing best practice and learning from each other
  • advice and guidance from experienced business people
  • promoting member businesses and supporting their marketing activity
  • building awareness of the social sector in the region
  • promoting the interests of our members with local authorities

ESSENCE wants to be inspiring to and inclusive of organisations that want to be more socially enterprising. ESSENCE also wants to make sure they are an organisation that has and is recognised for having a primary focus to further the development of the Exeter social enterprise sector. This includes amongst others representing social enterprises and educating the public what social enterprises are. We believe this is what makes ESSENCE unique. 

 Your social enterprise will get many benefits by joining ESSENCE: 

  1. Free access to network events, business support events & monthly informal meet-ups 
  2. Free exposure on the ESSENCE website, events, newsletter & social media 
  3. Access to the Enhance Social Enterprise Network events and offers 
  4. Access to Exeter Chamber events at Chamber member prices 
  5. Lots of member-to-member offers including free use of office desks, meeting rooms etc 
  6. A say in the running of the Network 

 We have two types of membership: 

  •  Company membership: for organisations (including single person businesses) meeting the social enterprise criteria. 

ESSENCE is a Community Interest Company and as such, Company members have voting rights and are liable/ a guarantor to the limit of £1 

  •  Network membership: for organisations (including single person businesses) and individuals supporting ESSENCEs mission. 

Network members enjoy all the benefits of an ESSENCE membership, apart from the right to vote and being liable as a guarantor.  

 Not a social enterprise (yet)? Apply for network membership! 

 Not sure which membership to go for? Contact Daphne at besocial@essenceofexeter.org.uk 


Please note The Board reserves the right to include or exclude applicants or members from company/network membership for reasons they can motivate. Full terms and conditions of membership can be found here – http://www.essenceofexeter.org.uk/membership-policy.html 


Depending on whether you apply as an organisation or an individual, the yearly contribution as a member of ESSENCE is based on last year’s turnover resp. last year’s income: 

Essence of Exeter Annual Membership Fees:

  • Turnover up to £10k                  £35
  • Turnover £10 to £50k                £50 
  • Turnover £50 to £100k             £65
  • Turnover £100 to £500k          £80 
  • Turnover £500 to £1m             £100
  • Turnover £1m to £5m              £150
  • Turnover £5m +                       £250

Of course, you are always welcome to pay more as a donation to furthering ESSENCE’s goals.