New report provides picture of China’s social enterprises

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A recent report shows that 47 percent of China’s social enterprises manage to break even, 35 percent make a profit, and 18 percent record losses.

The “Blue Book of Social Enterprises: Research Report on the Development of Social Enterprises in China (No.1)”, recently released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China Society for Social Governance and the Social Sciences Academic Press, aims to guide the healthy development of Chinese social enterprises.

The report highlighted data from the “China Social Enterprise Industry Questionnaire” which demonstrates that there is no consensus on the definition of “social enterprise” in China. Some think that social enterprises belong to non-profit organizations, some see social enterprises as businesses, while others think they are somewhere between non-profit organizations and enterprises. Therefore, a social enterprise can be understood to be a special kind of enterprise or social organization. But most people believe that social enterprises are rooted in social innovation.

The report pointed out that the country’s social enterprises began to emerge during the Reform and Opening-Up period, and went through a difficult period from 2010 to 2014, before further developing under a social entrepreneurship trend starting in 2015.

Although the general environment and internal capabilities of social enterprises have improved in recent years, they still face problems such as a lack of regulations, insufficient social awareness and weak organizational capabilities.

According to the report, about 65.5 percent of social enterprises are business entities and 32.2 percent are registered as non-profit organizations.

In terms of the geographical breakdown, the report shows that the majority of social enterprises are distributed across Sichuan, Shanghai, Guangdong and Beijing, with the highest proportion in Sichuan.