Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Insight into practice: the state of social entrepreneurship

What is the stage of social entrepreneurship in different countries? Listen to different perspectives in Chile, Australia, and Bangladesh.
What is the stage of social entrepreneurship in your country? So Bangladesh is a country of social enterprises. And we host two of the largest social enterprises of the world– BRAC and Grameen. Having said that, there are 150,000 plus much smaller social enterprises in this country, not as evolved, of course, not as big. But they are meeting some of the most critical challenges of our time in Bangladesh. Most of them have begun in the last seven years. And the founders, they are of– between 25 and 35 years old. And 20% of them are women.
As opposed to only 5% in the mainstream businesses, these are women founders who are leading a change and they’re employing 41% women, as opposed to 14% in mainstream businesses. It’s a very fast-growing market here. In fact, Australia and India are the fastest growing markets for social enterprises. We have quite a lot of social enterprises in Australia, where the most common business model is businesses selling products and then the profit goes to pay or fund social and environmental causes. The state of social entrepreneurship in Chile is– I will say in one word, effervescence. It’s growing rapidly.
In the last 10 or 5 years, more and more entrepreneurs have become in love with problems related to environment, poverty, and that kind of issue to solve through their companies. Who are the major promoters and funders of social entrepreneurship? When it comes to the promoters and funders of social entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, I would say there are quite a different range of entities. On the one hand, there are financial institutions such as BRAC Bank and IDLC. Some of these banking and non-banking financial institutions are providing the much-needed credit and growth money to these enterprises.
There are also government organizations like a Smith Foundation and Bangladesh NGO Affairs Bureau who are facilitating and also supporting the regulatory regime of social enterprises in Bangladesh. And there are also intermediaries who are accelerating and incubating the growth of these companies. It is a very fast-growing market, as I mentioned. There are now a lot of support organizations, umbrella organizations, such as Social Ventures Australia, Social Traders, The School of Social Entrepreneurship, we’ve got our master’s degree. So there is a very strong support for it. The government is very much into social enterprises. However, a social enterprise is not a legal entity in Australia. You have to be an either for-profit or a not-for-profit, at least, for now.
So the tax benefits are limited for social enterprises. Well, on the one hand you have the strong presence of international networks, such as Ashoka and Avina that are globally present, that have become relevant in our country’s ecosystem. They have provided with tools, network, and knowledge for social entrepreneurs in the last few years. Then universities, co-working spaces, incubators, and other actors of the entrepreneurship ecosystem have also tried to promote these types of companies that are focusing on solving social problems. Especially, I will mention CORFO, the production agency of the ministry of economics in our country that has developed quite a variety of tools and grants that social entrepreneurs can apply for to get grants and funding to develop their ideas.
In which area is social entrepreneurship very common? In Bangladesh, we are seeing that most of the social entrepreneurships are dedicated to solve one or the other most critical problems of this country. And a lot of it are in the education, and rightly so. We also see a lot of them are focusing on the services sectors. And also, some of them are looking at health, and also solving some of the infrastructure problems. So on the whole, I think these young founders, who are between 25 and 35 years old, where 20% of them are women, are actually tackling some of the most critical challenges of our time for Bangladesh. And I believe some of them will eventually cross the boundaries.
We have several types of social enterprises. One is the one that I just mentioned. For example, one of the most prominent social enterprises in Australia is named ‘Thank You’. They were growing quite quickly after the first difficult three years, and now they have all kinds of products. And each product line is designated to address a different problem. So the food is there to address food insecurity in the developing world. The ‘Thank You’ babies to address child and mother death and so on. So this is the kind of social enterprise that we have in Australia. We have also things like cafés and restaurants that are social enterprises.
And again, the money’s going to address issues, but they also use it to hire and employ people who are disadvantaged. So for example, we have Streat, with E-A-T in the end. And it’s a social enterprise state in Melbourne, in Australia. And they have a chain of cafés, coffee stalls, catering. But they hire homeless youth, and they help them develop their skills and employability. I will say that you can find social entrepreneurs in almost every industry and every area. There’s a lot of intrapreneurs as well– people who inside organizations and public institutions are pursuing social impact. But I will say that some of the most relevant are solutions for solving the poverty problem, agriculture, environment, tourism, waste management, and health.
Those are probably the most trending, or the areas in which social entrepreneurship is more trending. Thank you for your time. It was a pleasure talking to you.

Social enterprises are a global phenomenon. But the trend is different from country to country. So we asked researchers and field experts from different countries about the state of social enterprises in their country.

Listen to the answers of startup activist Minhaz Anwar from betterstoriesfoundation in Bangladesh, Associate Professor Debbi Haski-Leventhal of Macquarie University in Australia, and Victor Valenzuela, co-founder of Araucania Hub for Social Innovation in Chile.

Please let us know about the state of social entrepreneurship in your country in the comments below.

This article is from the free online

Entrepreneurship in Nonprofits

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now