Social enterprises (SEs) play a special role in helping developing countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They fill a critical gap in social service delivery to the poorest at the Base of the economic Pyramid (BoP). However, while effective in reaching the poor, SEs face significant obstacles in growing their activities to a scale where they can substantially contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.
Therefore, a key question of development research and policy is how best to identify and remove these obstacles.
The present study addresses this question for seven African countries by exploring the enabling environment, or “ecosystem”, in which SEs operate, i.e., the system of actors, institutions, and networks that support or hinder SEs in contributing to development goals. The study is the first of its kind for Africa and thus begins to fill an important gap in our knowledge of SEs on the continent.