Africa’s third sector

Assessing the impact of Africa’s social enterprises

Authored by: Tigineh Mersha , Ven Sriram , Roger Elliott

The Routledge Companion to Business in Africa

Print publication date:  June  2014
Online publication date:  July  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415635455
eBook ISBN: 9780203093146
Adobe ISBN: 9781136202506


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Social enterprises engage in innovative activities to generate sustainable revenue streams which they utilize to advance their social mission. This study examines three African social enterprises – Selam Children’s Village, Assai Elementary and Secondary Schools in Ethiopia, and Kieskamma Art Project in South Africa – which have been able to generate more than 40 percent of their annual budget through entrepreneurial activities and thereby made themselves less dependent on donations from external sources. This self-generated revenue stream is becoming very important in a time of growing donor fatigue and dwindling donations. The pressure is on social enterprises to become more innovative in acquiring and managing critical resources so that they can provide sustained services to their target populations. A thorough impact assessment has also become important as donors become more selective in funding only those enterprises that add a demonstrated social value. The experience of the three organizations included in this study suggests that by engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits consistent with their core mission African social enterprises can generate significant additional revenues that they can utilize to improve and expand their mission-based services.

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