Addressing social challenges with an entrepreneurial approach – that is the basic idea of social entrepreneurship. Accordingly, social entrepreneurs define their business purpose in terms of a positive social, ecological or cultural impact.
How widespread is social entrepreneurship in Switzerland? In which economic sectors are social entrepreneurs active? And how can the sector be better promoted? Answers to these questions and a comprehensive overview are provided by the Monitor Soziales Unternehmertum 2020.
Three findings from the Monitor are particularly relevant for unleashing the potential of social entrepreneurship in Switzerland:
- Social entrepreneurship is diverse, both in terms of economic sectors and impact goals. The Monitor shows that social entrepreneurs do business in 17 different sectors, ranging from hospitality/restaurants to health / social care to energy supply and financial services. In addition, social entrepreneurs address all of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Swiss social entrepreneurship landscape is also diverse in terms of legal forms: 36% are organized as GmbHs (limited liability companies), 19% as cooperatives and 15% as foundations and associations.
- Almost half of the businesses surveyed in the monitor (47%) are in the early implementation and growth phase. This means they have left the early start-up phase behind and are now looking for new channels and markets.
- Social entrepreneurs can address social problems that are not (yet) being addressed by other organizations. For example, about 20% of the companies surveyed have a social impact that organizations without an entrepreneurial approach do not have. This is because e.g. economic activity is inseparably linked to impact, or because solving the social challenge requires an entrepreneurial approach, as this is the only way to achieve the necessary scaling.
The newly launched Social Impact Accelerator ties in with these findings: The Accelerator explicitly supports social entrepreneurs that focus on positive social impact and not on maximising financial profits. This means that social entrepreneurs with other legal forms such as cooperatives, associations or foundations are explicitly included.
The Social Impact Accelerator also explicitly targets social entrepreneurs in the growth phase and supports them in scaling their impact for society and the environment. As the Monitor shows, a large proportion of social entrepreneurs in Switzerland are in precisely this phase.