In modern studies in sphere of business and management, social entrepreneurship is one of the most actively studied areas. This literature review presents an analysis of the main studies of the concept, essence and significance of social entrepreneurship, published in scientific journals for the period 1994 – 2016. In the literature review, features of the social enterprise and characteristics of the social entrepreneur are considered. The concept of social entrepreneurship is still insufficiently studied, which is confirmed by a large number of theoretical and limited amounts of empirical research in this field. The main factor that distinguishes social entrepreneurship from traditional entrepreneurship is the availability of social opportunities that entrepreneurs can use. As a result of the analysis, the basic concepts of social entrepreneurship were clarified, the characteristics of the social enterprise were determined, and the types and motivations of social entrepreneurs were analyzed. Social entrepreneurship is becoming popular all over the world. It takes a place in line with such generally recognized phenomena as non-profit initiatives, charity, and social responsibility. The existence of problems of a social nature is an inalienable attribute of any society, the reason for this is the inability to provide all members of society with equal opportunities for self-realization in all spheres. In social entrepreneurship, people make higher demands on the relationship between economic efficiency and social justice, as a result of which they decide to fight on their own with a problem that is a kind of irritating factor. As a promising and fast-growing area of research, the concept of social entrepreneurship is still insufficiently studied, which is confirmed by a large number of theoretical and limited amount of empirical research in this field. The concept of social entrepreneurship is multifaceted and reflects a wide range of inherent tasks and features Swanson, Zhang, 2010. Scientists continue to study the entrepreneurial process, entrepreneurial behavior and address social needs in social entrepreneurship Mair, Martí, 2006; Idris, Hati, 2013. The purpose of this literature review, is to analyze the work devoted to the study of social entrepreneurship: the definition of the conceptual framework, its essence and concept; identification of characteristics, features and characteristics of social enterprises; types and motives of social entrepreneurs. For the literature review, articles used, were published in academic journals and were selected in the period from 1994 to 2016. In the analysis of publications, a classification of studies was used to identify the most popular trends and identify the main characteristics of the analyzed publications. The analysis of the literature made it possible to determine the main directions of research on social entrepreneurship. The term “social entrepreneurship” appeared in the academic world in the late 1990s thanks to the efforts of researchers Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, and Charles Leadbeater, S. Wadok who in 1991 published a short article exploring the notion of social entrepreneurship Waddock, 1991; Bacq, Janssen, 2001; Certo, Miller, 2008. Social entrepreneurship as a profession and field for study was presented by Gregory Dees, director of the Center for the Development of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University. He noted that social entrepreneurship distinguishes the predominant role of social change, calling it “the desire for results associated with the mission” Dees, 2007. Social entrepreneurship has been recognized by the public sector, the scientific interest in this field has become visible since 1998 and has been actively increasing over time Dees, 1998; Weerawardena, Mort, 2006; Nicholls, Cho, 2008. A big role in the development of social entrepreneurship was played by Michael Young. Harvard professor Daniel Bell named Young’s, the world’s most successful entrepreneur in the field of social initiatives, thanks to his role in setting up more than 60 organizations around the world, including several Schools of Social Entrepreneurship in the UK. One of the very first examples of social entrepreneurship was met by the British entrepreneur Florence Nightingale in the nineteenth century contributed to the improvement of conditions in the hospital during the Crimean War, thereby reducing the mortality rate Bacq, Janssen, 2011. A successful example of social entrepreneurship is the activity of the Grameen group under the leadership of Professor Muhammad Yunus, who formulated the image of social business in its current understanding. The essence of his project is to create and then replicate a new institutional model of microfinance, which is an effective tool for combating poverty and stimulates the economic activity of relevant segments of the population (Seelos, Mair, 2005). In Russia, social entrepreneurship appeared at the turn of the XIX – XX centuries. An example of social entrepreneurship can be called House of diligence, founded by John of Kronstadt. Here everyone who needs (from single mothers to homeless people) could find a job, get shelter and care. The idea of houses of diligence subsequently spread throughout Russia.For the literature review, articles used, were published in academic journals and were selected in the period from 1994 to 2016. For the analysis of the main studies on social entrepreneurship, the author decided to use the most authoritative databases of journals and articles in the field of management and entrepreneurship: Scopus, Web of Scene and Google scholar. The analysis of the selected articles on social entrepreneurship was carried out by careful research and analysis of the texts of the selected articles. The literature review showed that in recent years, social entrepreneurship is seen as an important source of social, economic and environmental wealth. Also, articles on social entrepreneurship of Ukrainian authors, published in the period 2010 – 2014, were investigated. In scientific journals: “Contemporary Competition”, “Ukrainian Journal of Management”, “Ukrainian Entrepreneurship” and etc.