'Collaboration for Impact' is the third annual Social Enterprise forum in Bangladesh and is delivered by the British Council in partnership with key social enterprise actors in the country. Bangladesh is a global leader in social innovation and there is a long-standing tradition of commercial models delivering socially minded services and goods. The recently published State of Social Enterprise survey 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.
Evidenced based dialogue
In addition to the State of Social Enterprise survey, 2016 saw the publication of the Social Enterprise Policy Landscape in Bangladesh. These two reports along with a range of other emerging sources of evidence are beginning to build a robust picture of social enterprises in Bangladesh and have identified some of the key challenges that they face :
- A lack of technical skills and debt finance are the two biggest constraints faced by social enterprises.
- A lack of public awareness about social enterprises is seen as the significant barrier to growth.
- A better understanding of the specific sectors where social enterprises could deliver additional impact is required.
- Collaboration with and clarity around the role of government will be increasingly important for social enterprises to grow.
Enhancing collaboration to develop more impactful policy
The role that governments can play in accelerating the growth of social enterprise is critical. Through collaboration and dialogue with social entrepreneurs, civil society leaders and the private sector, governments can be supported to develop an enabling environment to support the growth of social enterprise. This session will explore how to make this happen.
“Buy social” – Building a market place and raising awareness of social enterprise products and services: The Role of government, business and consumers
Social Enterprises need markets for their products and services. Building new markets to sell social enterprise products into is hugely important. Governments and large corporates have a role to play in using their significant purchasing power to support the growth of social enterprises through their procurement strategies. This session will explore how governments and large companies can buy more from social enterprises as well as how we can promote ethical purchasing behaviour amongst the general public.
Learning from the State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh survey in dialogue with social enterprise leaders
The British Council recently published the ‘State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh’ report; this session will discuss the findings of this report along with leading social entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
Developing the capacity of social enterprise leaders
The lack of skills within social enterprises is often cited as a key barrier to growth. This session will explore how to develop the right skills amongst social enterprise leaders and how to attract talented people to use their skills to grow the social enterprise movement,
Growing the social investment market in Bangladesh
Along with skills the secondly most commonly cited barrier to the growth of social enterprises is access to finance. This session will analyse the emerging social investment market in Bangladesh and panellists will explore the current challenges and how social entrepreneurs can overcome them.
Social Enterprise and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The final panel will take a step back and situate social enterprise within the global context. Business will play a critical role if we are to have any chance of achieving the ambitious agenda set out by the SDGs. There is a need to reimagine the role of business in society and social enterprises can potentially lead the way in doing so.
The British Council’s Global Social Enterprise programme
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are on the ground in six continents and over 100 countries, bringing international opportunity to life.
Our Global Social Enterprise programme supports social enterprises to address social and environmental challenges and improve people's lives in our communities and societies. It promotes positive social change, inclusive growth and sustainable development while also sharing learning and building trust between the UK and other countries.
Our programme is delivered with partners who share our determination to support positive social change, sustainable development and inclusive growth. They provide business consulting, study tours, networking opportunities and funding support, enabling proven social enterprises to scale up their beneficial activities.
Through the programme, we provide aspiring and practising social entrepreneurs as well as NGO practitioners, community leaders and university students with skills training, mentoring and access to UK expertise.
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.