Social Innovation

Social enterprises have the potential to make the world a better place. This is how we can help them

An employee registers a customer for a mobile money transfer, known as M-Pesa, inside the Safaricom mobile phone care centre in the central business district of Kenya's capital Nairobi July 15, 2013. To match Insight AFRICA-MOBILEMONEY/   Picture taken July 15, 2013.  REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTR40NWM

The World Bank looks at how to support social enterprises. Image: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Cristina Navarrete Moreno
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Social Innovation?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Social Innovation is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Regional Organisations

A mobile health solution in Kenya that has given 1,000 mothers access to high-quality diagnostics and medical advice. An off-grid energy solution in Uganda that has brought clean energy to 100 rural developments. A sanitation center in South Africa that has improved hygiene for more than 2,000 families living in urban slums.

All these impactful solutions were implemented by social enterprises (SEs) — a new breed of organizations whose activities combine social and revenue oriented objectives. SEs have a solid understanding of local communities and benefit from the flexibility to experiment and adapt to changing contexts.

 Social Enterprises: How They Fit and Thrive
Image: World Bank

These few examples of innovative solutions demonstrate how South Asia and Africa are increasingly becoming a dynamic regional market for SEs, filling big gaps in the delivery of social services to the poor and underserved communities. SEs have increased their presence and reach every year, particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa, with vibrant markets in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda leading the way.

Yet, while inspiring success stories exist, widespread scale, replication, and integration within the wider network of public and private sector delivery have not yet been achieved across the region and within countries. SEs face multiple challenges that relate to the under-developed ecosystems within which they operate.

So, how can we help? How can we better understand SE ecosystems at a national and sectoral level? How can we improve them? What can we learn from best practices around the world?

With all of these questions in mind, the Social Enterprise Innovation team at the World Bank Group developed an SE ecosystem diagnostic tool. The tool combines different methodologies found in the literature to create an exhaustive review of the SE ecosystem: demand by the target population, supply of services, the SE situation at the heart of the model, and four factors that influence their ability to operate effectively and scale up.

social enterprise ecosystems effectiveness scaling up
Image: World Bank

The ecosystem framework guides analysis at all levels: country, service delivery sector and service delivery subsector. The team aims for the framework to help practitioners, policy makers, and social entrepreneurs to:

- Better understand the sector landscape and the potential role and impact of SEs

- Analyze inter-relations between actors and the importance of partnerships

- Examine best practices from ongoing initiatives, with early evidence of what is and isn’t working

- Review short-, medium- and long-term results of projects in seven African countries

- Make evidence-based decisions on priorities and interventions to maximize resources

- Benchmark ecosystem performance against other countries

Understanding the immense potential of SEs and creating an enabling environment for them to thrive could supplement public and private service delivery, bringing critical social services to the last mile.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Social InnovationLeadership
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How the right legal frameworks can catalyze a social enterprise surge

Isis Bous and Allison Laubach

June 4, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum