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March 19, 2009 / compassioninpolitics

What can government do to encourage social entrepreneurship

What is Government to Do to Support Social Entrepreneurs and Social Business Innovators

You might be wondering How can goverment increase social entrepreneurship and encourage social change? Or perhaps “How can government faciliate and enable the next generation of do gooders?” Initially providing funds to jump start incubators that provide space and practical training can also provide. The Center for Social Innovation is a great example are similar examples of coworking in the states. You can find more about coworking here.

A collaborative white paper by Rootcause entitled “Advancing Social Entrepreneurship: Recommendations for Policy Makers and Government Agencies” suggests:

A public-private social innovation fund can leverage taxpayer dollars with private funds to make resources available for funding social-entrepreneurial solutions. Creating a fund specifically designated to advance social entrepreneurship would enable government to follow a performance-based model for investment, not unlike venture capital funds, to both seed and scale initiatives. Two related models show how such a fund could work structurally and operationally.

Models: Small Business Investment Company (SBIC)
Venture Philanthropy & Social Venture Capital
Small Business Investment Company (SBIC)

The Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Small Business Investment Company program provides an example of a fund that mixes public and private funding; it exhibits how a public-private social innovation fund might work structurally.

Encouraging Public Innovators
Initially, Public Innovators have 5 other ideas for encouraging social entrepreneurship that are worth checking out. Their website just launched to answer this specific public policy question. You can also check out their social entrepreneurship and government resources. Finally, America Forward likewise specializes on the interface between social entrepreneurs and government (although they appear to have a focus on Americorps style social entrepreneurs, as opposed to more for profit models)

The Public Innovators has a 30 minute podcast on the role of government role with social entrepreneurs of a panel at the Aspen Institute. A noted panelist from New Orleans on the Aspen panel intelligently points out, “Our role…the role of government is to facilitate, link, leverage, and get out of the way.” He later points out that as a general rule that public private partnerships ultimately work best than either working alone, if done right.

Update: The public innovators released five suggestions for government who wants to encourage and improve social business.

Social edge has several resources (including summary case studies on government engagement in the social venture space) relevant to those who want to encourage social capitalism and better public-private relationships in this burgeoning arena.

Leading social entrepreneurs John Elkington and Pamela Hardington in “The Power of Unreasonable People” highlight:

• Among the actions respondents called for are improved tax incentives for social entrepreneurship, innovative financial instruments to encourage banks and pension funds to get involved, stronger property rights, simplified regulation, and incentives to encourage public sector employees to remove barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship.

• Bilateral and multilateral institutions have key roles to play in increasing transparency, stimulating entrepreneurial cultures, raising awareness of social entrepreneurship, expanding the use of public-private partnerships, and supporting necessary expert studies.

Educational institutions are vital for the long-term success of communities, countries, and the global economy….They…need to cultivate entrepreneurial thinking, promote interdisciplinary programs, provide internships and other opportunities to expose young people to the world of entrepreneurship, stimulate the formation of national and global networks, contribute research to the field, and support young entrepreneurs with awards.

For some of the case studies provided by in the book “Power of Unreasonable People

(“The Power of Unreasonable People” available on Amazon)


Leave a Comment
  1. compassioninpolitics / Jun 26 2009 8:48 pm

    This came out in 2007, but is a roadmap for some principles which can help government along the way.

    I think the question is, how do you create the vibrant culture of a Boston, San Fransisco, or perhaps even an Austin or DC but without the overhead (or risk). One key way the Silicon Valley has been successful is by supporting Berkeley and Stanford.

  2. compassioninpolitics / Nov 19 2010 7:30 pm

    From the Wall Street Journal:
    Of the roughly 1,200 business incubators in the U.S. today, about 5% fit into the niche category, says Tracy Kitts, chief operating officer of the National Business Incubation Association. While that’s only up from 3% in 2006—the last time the Athens, Ohio, nonprofit collected such data—there is now a greater variety of niche incubators than in the past, when just about all catered to technology start-ups.

  3. Nathan Ketsdever / Sep 28 2011 1:41 am

    Here is an organization CEOs for Cities which seems to be working on some very interesting issues in this area:


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