This paper argues that enterprises can be understood primarily in terms of their social bases and that the social base of community enterprise lies in community of some kind. It reviews current conceptualizations in this area such as 'community-based enterprise' (CBE) and 'social enterprise', and argues that CBE is only one form of community enterprise. Community entrepreneurs are understood in terms of their position on a continuum of community participation, as economic/social/political activists, and community enterprise is explained largely in terms of the balance of social capital functions served by its overall activity. The relationship between membership of a community enterprise and membership of a community is explored, and represented in terms of two criteria: the pool from which enterprise members are drawn and the rule by which such members are selected from the pool. This paper illustrates its arguments in relation to two English community enterprises, Coin Street Community Builders based in London and The Eldonians based in Liverpool.