Social entrepreneurs present a contradiction if one accepts that economic motivation is premised on personal gain alone. The economic activity of social entrepreneurs is presumed altruistic, their actions intending to primarily benefit others. The theoretical and actual motivations, social networks and values of these actors are compared in this article. A series of semi-structured interviews of prominent social entrepreneurs in the west of England form the basis of analysis. Subjects were selected through a nomination-referral technique that allows targeting for interview those who are considered prominent in the sector within the chosen location. Two types of analysis are attempted: a narrative exploration of their motivations and a semantic networks analysis of their statements. There is evidence of a conceptual association between those actors’ success, entrepreneurship, motivation and social relations that indicate profitable avenues for future research. Some policy recommendations are offered in the conclusion. The multiple roles of social entrepreneurs and the multiple audiences they address indicate multidimensional agency. The development of the sector depends on comprehending conflict inherent in their multiple agendas.