There are approximately 11 million social enterprises worldwide, according to the most comprehensive data ever gathered, published in a report by the British Council and Social Enterprise UK.
The research, ‘More in Common: The Global State of Social Enterprise,’ for the first time aims to identify how many social enterprises, businesses driven by a social or environmental purpose, exist globally.
According to a report released on 7 June, Vietnam and Sri Lanka have the world’s highest profit-making social enterprises. In South Africa, Brazil, Greece and UAE less than a quarter make a profit.
In the report foreword, Dr. François Bonnici, Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and Head of Social Innovation at the World Economic Forum, said: “This historic report demonstrates how social enterprise is one of the largest movements of our time.”
Bonnici said: “[The movement] does not have a visible leader or figurehead, or feature Media-made unicorn successes, but it is rather driven by millions of people developing the kinds of companies we need in the 21st century.
“They are significant in number and are present in every community and society around the world. We know that social enterprises are essential in the effort to recover from the pandemic and drive more inclusive, sustainable economies and societies.”
According to the report, most of the world’s social enterprises controlled by people over the age of 65 are based in Jamaica and Sri Lanka.
Social enterprise leaders are often young. Bangladesh, Morocco, and Indonesia had the highest proportion of social enterprises led by under 24-year-olds, while Greece, Ghana, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam had a few social enterprises led by young people.
In most countries, social enterprise leaders were aged between 25 and 44. Jamaica and Sri Lanka had the highest proportion of leaders aged over 65.
The research found that social enterprises across the world are often young organisations. The average year of establishment across all the countries is 2010. Singapore and Algeria have the newest social enterprises, while social enterprises in Sri Lanka and Pakistan are older.
The researchers said in almost every country studied, social enterprises were more likely to be led by women than businesses more widely, pushing forward gender equality.
The greatest proportions of female leaders were found in Turkey, UAE, and Kyrgyzstan. There were fewer female leaders in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The researchers conclude that most social enterprises around the world are optimistic and have plans to grow. More than half of all social enterprises surveyed were planning to achieve growth through developing new products and services “reinforcing the idea of social enterprises and engines of innovation,” according to the researchers. (IG)