Social Enterprise

Isaac Lyne

Trading for a social purpose is nothing new; the Red Cross began trading in order to supplement revenues during the First World War. However, since the 1980s, the not-for-profit sector in many countries has taken a stronger commercial turn. Policy makers in the ‘rich world’ initially became appreciative of social enterprise’s potential for regional development and competitive public services. Social enterprise later gained a profile in international development, where it has been incorporated into the broader language of “business at the base of the economic pyramid” by the World Bank and United Nations agencies. It is also likely, that social business models – this is, enacted hybrid organisations using a bottom of the pyramid model and similar principles for growth to those used by microfinance finance institutions, will become the main priority for development actors including the United Nations agencies and the World Bank, as far as social enterprise is concerned.

Suggested citation

Lyne, I. Forthcoming. "Social Enterprise". In M. Clarke and A. Zhao (Eds) Elgar Encyclopedia of Development. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.