Social enterprise report outlines discoveries and suggestions for entrepreneurs

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The DBS Foundation recently partnered with the Social Enterprise Research Centre in Beijing to publish the “Greater China Social Enterprise Survey Report”. The report outlines the discoveries they made over the last year in the world of social enterprises in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In addition, it sets forth suggestions for social entrepreneurs for the coming years. The main goals of the report are to encourage growth in the social enterprise sector by attracting talent, improving business, bringing in investment, setting up networks, and developing more purposeful policies.

The report highlights several insightful statistics, such as the fact that 48% of women working in China’s social enterprise industry take on high-level management positions. In addition, social entrepreneurs in China have rather high academic backgrounds, with 14.5% holding vocational degrees, 46.3% holding bachelor’s degrees and 26% holding master’s degrees. Altogether, those with at least a bachelor’s degree amount to over 70% of the sector.

The report found that 50% of social enterprises in Greater China were established between 2013 and 2015, with the five most common items on their agendas being education, assistance for the disabled, employment, poverty alleviation, and elderly care. It also found that nearly 80% of all Chinese social enterprises were only recently established, with the other 20% having already entered a more stable phase of their development. The report points out that 60% of social enterprises are for-profit. In addition, 20% of social enterprises have successfully began self-financing through equity stocks, while the rest rely on outside funding.

Aside from these findings, the report also lays out suggestions for the social enterprise sector. First of all, it emphasizes the need for entrepreneurs to increase their organization and personal abilities by seeking those with high motivations, leadership skills and self-awareness. Secondly, it stresses the need to attract investment, such as from the public sphere, business entrepreneurship, IT and incubators. Thirdly, it reiterates the need to place more emphasis on higher education in order to cultivate more critical thinking and leadership skills in the sector. Lastly, the report suggests rolling out more purposeful measures and projects, such as “targeted poverty alleviation measures” and “employment of disadvantaged groups.” At the same time, it also stresses that social enterprises should join hands with the government to realize these projects.

Social Enterprise Research Center’s chairman Zhu Xiaobin spoke at the Greater China Social Enterprise Research Briefing, saying that “following the growth of the internet and the continued opening up of China, more and more businesses are paying attention to corporate-social responsibility (CSR), even adding CSR measures to their operations. On another note, public welfare organizations are looking for more sustainable operation methods, with some transitioning into social enterprises. In working towards a more ideal society, businesses and public welfare organizations are coming together. We look forward to watching this trend continue across Greater China.”