Wednesday 22 February 2017

The third annual Social Enterprise forum “Collaboration for Impact” has commenced today at the British Council Main Office at Fuller Road, Dhaka. This event is organised by the British Council in collaboration with the Access to Information (a2i) Programme, of the Prime Minister's Office and key social enterprise actors in the country such as Better stories, Dnet, futurestartup, mPower and team engine.

This year, the event brought together over 100 policy experts, social enterprise and social investment intermediaries and practitioners from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom. The dialogue will facilitate the continuation of the development of a network of policy influencers, social entrepreneurs, academia and private sector enterprise specialists in East Asia, South Asia and the UK. Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive ofSocial Enterprise UK, is coming as keynote speaker for this event to share the UK’s policies and best practice around the Social Enterprise sector.

Kabir Bin Anwar, Director General (Admin), Prime Minister's Office, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Project Director (PD), AccessTo Information (A2I) Programme inaugurated the event as the chief guest. David Ashley, Deputy British High Commissioner in Bangladesh and Barbara Wickham, Director, British Council Bangladesh were also present as special guests.

“Bangladesh has been a global pioneer in social enterprise and I believe that this event comes at a pivotal moment for the country. Today there is a small but vibrant social enterprise movement in Dhaka and a relatively large amount of on-going social enterprise activity across the country. However, to date there has been little quantitative evidence about the operations and impact of social enterprises in Bangladesh. This survey is an important step in remedying that knowledge gap that will inform the delivery of our social enterprise programme in Bangladesh, disseminate sector knowledge and best practice between the UK and Bangladesh and support our shared goal of building safer, more inclusive and prosperous societies” said Barbara Wickham.

The event is taking place at a pivotal moment for Bangladesh. Bangladesh has been a global pioneer in social enterprise and there is a long-standing tradition of commercial models delivering socially minded services and goods. Bangladesh is set to reach middle income country status by 2021, which both means that there is a growth in entrepreneurial activity but also that some big donors may reprioritize towards least developed and developing countries. Furthermore, the recently published State of Social Enterprise survey[1] evidences the important contribution and emerging role that social enterprises are playing in addressing the challenges faced by communities across the country

-      Young people and women play a more prominent role in leading social enterprises than in mainstream enterprises.

-      Social Enterprises are young, with the majority of social enterprises less than 6 years old.

-      Social Enterprises are optimistic about growth

-      32% of Social Enterprises are addressing the critical skills challenge that Bangladesh faces.

 This emerging evidence suggests a bright future for social enterprises in Bangladesh. The 2017 forum is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs, development professionals, social investors and policy makers to come together for a two day policy dialogue in order to share and learn from experiences, and to identify opportunities to accelerate the growth of social enterprise in Bangladesh.

 The dialogue provides an opportunity to contribute to the development of a Social Enterprise policy framework in Bangladesh. It will consider the contexts (economic, cultural, political) that have supported the development of the Social Enterprise sector in the countries in East and South Asia as well as the UK in recent years, creating a pertinent platform for exchanging views and experiences, sharing  best practices in social enterprise, and exploring their adaptation in Bangladesh. Additionally, the Policy Dialogue will facilitate a continuation to the development of a network of policy influencers, social entrepreneurs, academia and private sector enterprise specialists in East Asia, South Asia and the UK.

Bangladesh has enjoyed economic growth above six per cent over the last decade and has a thriving start-up sector. The consistent economic growth of Bangladesh and its rising geopolitical importance is going to sustain only if the women, the youth, and the underprivileged are afforded opportunities to actively participate in the workforce. Social enterprises, as the study reveals, can be among the major sectors providing that opportunity. However, the sector is in strong need of timely support and recognition, and its potential requires acknowledgment from the policy makers.

[1] (accessed 10.02.17)

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact:

Arshia Aziz, Head of Marketing and Communications, British Council.


About the British Council’s Global Social Enterprise programme

Through our Global Social Enterprise programme, we promote the development of social enterprise and social investment to help address entrenched social and environmental problems and deliver positive change in our communities and societies.Our work draws on UK expertise and is delivered across 28 countries with local and international partners. Together, we provide social entrepreneurs with access to training, mentoring and funding opportunities and promote social enterprise education in schools and universities. We also convene policy dialogues, organise study tours and conduct research to share knowledge and best practice in scaling social enterprise and social investment.It is a systemic approach designed to help foster a more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future and build collaboration, opportunities and trust between the UK and other countries. To find out more, please visit:

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes. We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides less than 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. 

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