Social entrepreneurship and social enterprise


The creation of more sustainable and resilient societies will require a creative, flexible approach, and an ability to adapt and learn.  Such entrepreneurial behaviour applies not just to the development of businesses and enterprises but includes social and political activity.  Here at CSRC we are interested in particular in social entrepreneurship and the development of social enterprises both in the UK and in Africa and South America.

Social enterprise has emerged as a powerful tool for addressing deprivation and some of the most intractable social problems that communities face today.  Our work seeks to generate knowledge and debate on the importance of sustainable business models, legal structures and governance models for social enterprises as they seek to be effective agents of social change in the communities they serve.

Work in this area includes:

  • A joint research project to explore social enterprise as a key policy instrument to address poverty, foster community cohesion and regenerate cities in Brazil, with a focus on waste recycling in Belo Horizonte.  The University of Huddersfield is working on this with the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Belo Horizonte, like many other major cities, faces major problems in addressing environmental challenges associated with waste management. Recycling of waste has emerged as a key source of employment in poor communities across the country, resulting in a number of government and private sector interventions to provide relevant regulatory mechanisms and technical support. (Dr Walter Mswaka).

  • Illegal and illicit rural enterprise/ entrepreneurship (Professor Gerard McElwee); current work on plant theft in Scotland

  • The charcoal value chain in Zambia and the development of biodiesel from recycled cooking oil.  Charcoal burning is a major issue in many African countries, primarily because of the impact on forests. This research is being undertaken jointly with academics from Copperstone University in Zambia with a view to understanding the value chain of charcoal production and the identification of interventions that might mitigate the impacts of this practice. We are also working with Copperstone University on the potential for bio-diesel production from restaurant waste oil, and how this can be used for transportation in Kitwe, Zambia. (Dr Julia Meaton).

  • Research to support Kirklees Council’s ‘Social Value Implementation Project’. Kirklees Council has developed a Social Value Policy and an associated implementation programme, which aims to go beyond the Social Value Act. The UK’s Social Value Act requires those people who commission public services to think about how they can secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits as part to the procurement process. Kirklees Council intends to go beyond the procurement process to build social value into the whole commissioning and procurement cycle. Dr Walter Mswaka’s and Dr Fiona Cheetham’s research seeks to develop a greater understanding of the marketplace within Kirklees, with a specific focus on determining the capacity of (1) Private Sector and (2) Social Enterprises/Voluntary and Community Sector organisations to undertake council contracts under the proposed Social Value Implementation Project.