Social Entrepreneurship in Asia

Philippines - Bohol - Baclayon Church [Photo by © Salim Photography/] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Social Entrepreneurship is Growing in Asia

There are many encouraging examples of social entrepreneurship in Asia. However, at major conferences such as the Skoll World Forum it is notable that, with the exception of Indian entrepreneurs, Asian presenters are usually a minority. Despite the various social entrepreneurship organizations like Social Edge that exist throughout the region, there are few blogs or online commentary coming out of the Asian social entrepreneurship community.

One of the reasons why this is the case has to do with language. Because English is the lingua franca of the global social entrepreneurship movement, this presents a barrier to participation for many Asians. The relative abundance of proficient English speakers in India helps to explain why there are many Indian entrepreneurs who are contributing to the social entrepreneurship discussions led by the west.

Seriously stupid sign [Photo by Loren Sztajer] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

As an Asian-Australian myself, I think there is some merit to this point of view. As a solution, maybe there should be increased asian translation systems at social entrepreneurship forums.

Or perhaps there could be more Asian-grown social entrepreneurship conferences that are held in Asian languages?

In any case, the dialog, expansion and contribution of Asian social entrepreneurs is a worthwhile endeavor, and one which I support.

Capital Markets For Social Entrepreneurship

The lack of western media representation doesn’t mean that social entrepreneurship is not taking of in the Asia Pacific region, which faces issues in maintaining growth that is socially equitable, providing transparency to stakeholders, and being environmentally sustainable. Asian social enterprises tackling challenges from health care to microfinance have been doing good work, but many also struggle with a lack of access to capital to expand their operations.

deep impact on planet color [Photo by spettacolopuro] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

That’s where the idea for the Impact Investment Exchange, based in Singapore, can help. Like a traditional stock exchange, the Impact Investment Exchange will provide investors access to opportunities by listing, trading, and clearing securities including shares and bonds of social enterprises. The investment platform will feature both for-profit companies and non-profit organizations, which in turn must provide audited financial and environmental, social and governance reports to investors.