Women's leadership significantly higher
Twenty percent of Bangladeshi social enterprises are led by women, significantly higher than in mainstream business which is only five percent, a survey findings revealed.
It also said women in social enterprises make up 41 percent of the full time equivalent workforce; more than double of their participation rate in the general workforce.
The British Council, United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, launched two new survey reports “The State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh” and “Social Enterprise Policy Landscape in Bangladesh” yesterday in the capital.
The study was led by Overseas Development Institute with support from BetterStories Limited, UnLtd and Social Enterprises UK.
Bangladeshi social enterprises have created an increasing number of jobs over the last two years.
Many of which are part time and mostly occupied by women. The participation of women in part time jobs is 53 percent and 47 percent in full time jobs this year. But social enterprises leadership is dominated by men, around 80 percent.
Bangladeshi social enterprises are young and so are their leaders. The survey indicates that 77 percent of them were registered between 2009 and 2016. Also, 69 percent are run by owners or directors who are under 35 and 91 percent under 45.
Social enterprises are businesses which trade for a social purpose, re-invest surpluses into their social objective, and make themselves accountable for their actions, rather than maximising profits.
Terming social enterprise as a growing and dynamic sector of the country's economy, speakers at the programme said it is creating jobs for the disadvantaged, empowering women, and addressing social exclusions.
Bangladeshi social enterprises are generating an average annual turnover of around Tk 21.3 crore, the survey said.
The report shows lack of technical skills as the biggest barrier to growth, followed by access to debt finance, lack of social enterprise awareness and understanding, and cash flow constraints.
Donations and grants are the most common source of funding, with few social enterprises securing concessional loans or equity. Limited capital supply is seen as the primary funding constraint.
The survey was based on sources including existing datasets and a specific survey that was developed and conducted for the research, where 149 organisations participated. The survey estimates there could be around 1.5 lakh social enterprises currently operating in Bangladesh and they have already reached approximately 207,397 beneficiaries.
Jim Scarth Obe, deputy director of British Council, Bangladesh, said the reports attempt for the first time to understand the scale of social enterprise activity in the country and the sectors in which social enterprises are focused and the beneficiaries they support.
He said the reports survey the existing enabling environment for social enterprises. It looks at government activity that influences social enterprise and also compiles suggestions from the government and stakeholders.
Terming Bangladesh as a global pioneer in social enterprise, Barbara Wickham, director, British Council, Bangladesh, said, “Today there is a small but vibrant social enterprise movement in Dhaka and a relatively large amount of on-going social enterprise activity across the country.”
Md Ashadul Islam, director general of NGO affairs bureau, said, "There is no legal framework for social enterprises in our bureau, which is needed for its acceleration. A proper guideline and direction from the government is also needed.”
Minhaz Anwar, managing director of BetterStories Limited, presented the survey reports. A panel discussion was held afterwards where Dr Annaya Raihan, director of LifeCord, and Barrister Anita Ghazi Rahman, also spoke.