Successful Social Enterprises in Africa: Six Case Studies from Kenya

Karen Panum Thisted, Michael W. Hansen

    Research output: Working paperResearch

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    As part of the greater focus on the role of firms and entrepreneurship in development, spotlight has recently fallen upon so-called ‘social enterprises’. Social enterprises are organizations that operate in the borderland between the for-profit and non-for-profit spheres. The inherent purpose of social enterprises is generation of social change through commercial means which is effectuated through innovative business model hybrids. At the bottom of pyramid (BOP) in developing Sub-Saharan Africa, the need for sustainable solutions is greater than ever and social enterprises are increasingly in focus as key players in sustainable development. Kenya constitutes a suitable location for the collection of empirical evidence on social enterprises at the BOP, partly because Kenya is a regional forerunner in the promotion of an entrepreneurial business culture, partly because Kenya displays many of the poverty related development challenges endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, this paper presents six tales of social enterprises from the Kenyan BOP, who all have managed to pursue a social agenda while at the same time achieving commercial viability. While the cases contribute to the BOP literature as each constitutes solid evidence of social routes to success at the BOP, they also reveal important dilemmas facing managers who each day are forced to make difficult decisions in order to strike the right balance between achieving both commercial and social goals. Thereby the paper also adds significant value to the ongoing discussions in the social enterprise literature. Besides constituting important empirical evidence from the inadequately investigated area of social enterprises at the BOP, the cases provide basis for raising important conceptual issues related to the boundaries of social and traditional commercial enterprises.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
    PublisherCopenhagen Business School [wp]
    Number of pages56
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    SeriesCBDS Working Paper

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