Innovation - Social enterprise: challenges and opportunities

April 2013
Emily Darko William Avis Eliada Griffin-El (UCT) Rosemary Maina (KCA) David Kairo (EASEN) Vu Thi Quynh Anh (Spark centre) Doan Viet Dung (Spark centre)

This project will examine the objectives, practices and challenges faced by social enterprises and consider opportunities for new ways of working. The research will be carried out in two diverse, developing country contexts with vibrant social enterprise sectors: Kenya and Vietnam.


Despite optimism about what they can achieve, social enterprises face many challenges to reaching these goals. This project aims to understanding these challenges and provide recommendations to enterprises, service providers and regulators on how to address them. The research builds on ODI’s work to map financial and non-financial support provided to social enterprises.


This project examines the objectives, operations and challenges faced by social enterprises and explores ways of overcoming these challenges. The work is centred around two case studies – in Kenya and in Vietnam – exploring social enterprise activity in the health and agriculture sectors. These are two diverse countries and sectors in which social enterprises are particularly active, and where there is potential for impact on large numbers of people. The study is informed by field interviews with social enterprises and organisations supporting them in Kenya and Vietnam.


This project is in partnership with Spark Centre for Social Enterprise Development (Vietnam), the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and KCA University and the East African Social Entrepreneurship Network (EASEN (Kenya).

Private Sector and Markets
Department for International Development (DFID)
Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Bertha Centre)
Spark center for social entrepreneurship development (Spark Center)
KCA university (EASEN)
East Africa Social Enterprise Network (EASEN) (EASEN)

Emerge conference 2013

Event - 2 - 3 November 2013
Emerge​ conference allows students, professionals and sector leaders to connect to learn about and develop businesses with a social impact. Emily Darko is hosting an interactive session on 2nd November at the Emerge 2013 Conference entitled ‘Mapping support to social enterprise’. She will discuss on findings from ODI’s recent work with the Shell Foundation to create a pilot survey of organisations providing financial and non-financial support to social enterprises in developing countries, and ask participants to feedback on issues and questions for phase 2 of the work and how it fits into the ecosystem of supporting social enterprise growth.