Valuing Asian social enterprise

Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed and Ruth Shapiro

As the coronavirus ravages businesses and communities, people are isolated, thrown out of work, cut off from medical care, and in need of services often provided by social enterprises. But new research shows that social enterprises themselves need help

In our study, Business for Good: maximizing the value of social enterprises in Asia[1], we examined the challenges social enterprises face, conducting over 700 surveys and interviews of founders, impact investors, enablers and policy-makers. The study covers six countries – Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan and Thailand – with 1.2 million social enterprises among them, and spotlights China and India, which have an additional 3.5 million.

As Asia stands at an unprecedented confluence of wealth, opportunity and need, social enterprises, which combine social impact with financial return, are an important part of the way forward.

Why are they needed? Asia has one-third of the world’s wealth, but it also has two-thirds of the world’s poor. It is particularly vulnerable to the threat of climate change: 80 per cent of those displaced by weather disasters in the last decade were Asian. More than 350 million Asians lack access to electricity and 81 million are unemployed. Governments alone in Asia are not meeting the urgent needs of all citizens, even in affluent cities such as Hong Kong.

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