Conceptualizing the Social Enterprise Landscape: Insights from Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, and South Africa

Hanley in South Africa

Lisa Hanley (in white shirt) at the spring 2014 Municipal Services Conference in South Africa. photo / provided

Social investment markets are growing around the globe and increasingly receive high-level support. Social enterprises — the recipients of social investments — are believed to be important contributors in the fight against poverty. Evidence backing this assumption, however, is scarce and largely anecdotal.

Lisa Hanley will deliver a presentation that draws on a quantitative study of social investors and social enterprises that evaluates the ability of social enterprises to satisfy the basic needs of poor populations. The study focuses on Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, and South Africa; the dynamics in the public, private, and third sectors; and examines to what extent these influence the activities of social enterprises, as well as the growing legitimacy of market oriented, for-profit organizations as partners for service delivery. Recommendations on how to increase the contribution of social enterprises to alleviate poverty and improve collaboration within the public and third sectors will be discussed. In addition, the presentation will highlight the importance of developing national and international criteria for social enterprises.

Hanley is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Civil Society Center at Zeppelin University, where she coordinates the International Research Network on Social Economic Empowerment funded by the Siemens Stiftung. She has worked in the field of international development and urban studies and her current research interests focus on the public-private debate and the role of social enterprises in the delivery of public services, with particular attention on their role in the social economy. She holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell University. She has been an associate researcher at the Center for the Study of the City at FLACSO, Ecuador, and is the recipient of a Ford Foundation Social Science Research fellowship and a Fulbright fellowship.