Social Enterprises in OECD Member Countries: What are the Financial Streams?

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Abstract:

This chapter focuses on the emergence of financial instruments and enabling environments for social enterprises in selected OECD countries, with particular focus on Western European countries, Canada and the United States, and possible strategies for supporting their development in Eastern European Countries. As social enterprises continue to draw the attention of national governments and local authorities alike in the fight against unemployment and social exclusion, they are also being embraced by civil society as a way of addressing unmet needs in a sustainable manner. Social enterprises are emerging in numerous sectors producing goods and services, thereby increasingly demonstrating their capacity as economic actors. They are similarly considered as key to socio‐economic transformation in transitional economies. As the chapter suggests, the incompatibility of an existing investment framework, tied to outmoded and fixed categories that do not correspond to the new reality of social enterprises and their investment needs, requires cultural adaptation of the financial, legal, accounting and policy communities internationally to this new reality before the appropriate and enabling tools can be designed. For social finance to become sustainable finance, an integrated approach has to be adopted that is distinct from traditional capital markets. In conclusion, and regardless of the breadth of instruments available, the real potential of social enterprises will only be realised if they are integrated into a systemic approach to social exclusion, labour market transformation, and territorial (place‐based) socio‐economic development strategies that requires innovative public policy. 

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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