Social Enterprise

What are social enterprises?

Social enterprises are businesses that tackle social and environmental problems. They create jobs and generate income like other businesses, but instead of channelling their profits to owners they reinvest them to support their social mission. In doing so, they are improving people’s lives in our communities and societies. 

Our Global Social Enterprise programme

Launched in 2009, the British Council’s global social enterprise programme draws on the UK experience in social enterprise to promote its growth around the world. We build capacity in the sector, forge international networks, and support policy leaders to create ecosystems in which social enterprise and social investment can thrive. Our work supports positive social change, inclusive growth and sustainable development while building trust and creating opportunities between the UK and other countries. 

Since 2009 the programme has:

• Trained 9050 social entrepreneurs 

• Engaged more than 100,000 people face-to-face through study tours, policy dialogues, competitions and forums 

• Formed over 150 high impact partnerships across all sectors 

• Achieved 1.5 billion media mentions 

Our Activities in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has been a global pioneer in social enterprise. Currently there is a small but thriving social enterprise movement in Dhaka and a relatively large amount of on-going social enterprise activity across the country, depicting a growth in entrepreneurship and the increasing importance of this sector of society and the economy. 

We organise policy dialogues and public activities that promote social enterprise, social investment, corporate social responsibility and sustainable economic development. The programme in Bangladesh support policy development working closely with the government ministries, different government institutions, social entrepreneurs, private business and development agencies. 

On 25-26 February 2015 we organised the first ever high level policy dialogue called “Social Enterprise: Policy and Practice” in partnership with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Over 100 policy experts, academics, social entrepreneurs and social investors from South Asia, East Asia and the UK met to explore how to create a better policy environment for social enterprises in the Bangladesh. 

The social enterprise programme provides aspiring and existing social entrepreneurs with skills training, mentoring and access to UK expertise. Through Business and Investment Readiness (BiR) programme, the British Council also supports social enterprise intermediaries to strengthen social enterprises around Bangladesh by providing them with the support they need to enhance and scale the impact of their work by collaborating with the UK social enterprises as well as will be able to learn from UK entrepreneurial sector.

In addition to BiR, we also stage competitions to encourage and support the young individuals with innovative ideas in the social entrepreneurship through mentorship schemes. 

We are working on few thought leadership piece through series of research initiatives in partnerships UK social enterprise partner organisations to understand the social enterprise sector needs such as Social Enterprise in a global context -Baseline Study for Social enterprises in Bangladesh and Social Enterprise Policy Landscape in Bangladesh. Our Social Enterprise programme supports women entrepreneurs who are from disadvantaged background and don’t have access to markets and entrepreneurial skills to create their own livelihoods.

Our social enterprise work will ultimately contribute to the economic empowerment of young people which benefits the communities in which they work and support to create an enabling framework for social enterprises regardless of their size and scale.