Social Enterprises (SEs) are normally micro and small businesses that trade to tackle social problems, and to improve communities, people’s life chances, and the environment. Thus, their importance to society and economies is increasing. However, there is still a need for more understanding of how these organisations operate, perform, innovate and scale-up. This knowledge is crucial to design and provide accurate strategies to enhance the sector and increase its impact and coverage. Obtaining this understanding is the main driver of this paper, which follows the theoretical lens of the Knowledge-based View (KBV) theory to develop and assess empirically a novel model for knowledge management capabilities (KMCs) development that improves performance of SEs. The empirical assessment consisted of a quantitative study with 432 owners and senior members of SEs in UK, underpinned by 21 interviews. The findings demonstrate how particular organisational characteristics of SEs, the external conditions in which they operate, and informal knowledge management activities, have created overall improvements in their performance of up to 20%, based on a year-to-year comparison, including innovation and creation of social and environmental value. These findings elucidate new perspectives that can contribute not only to SEs and SE supporters, but also to other firms.