British Council organises 2-Day policy dialogue on social enterprise in Bangladesh

News Hour:

The third annual Social Enterprise forum “Collaboration for Impact”  has commenced on February 22nd at the British Council Main Office at Fuller Road, Dhaka, Bangladesh. This event was organized by the British Council in collaboration with the Access to Information (a2i) Programme, of the Prime Minister’s Office and key social enterprise actors in the country such as Better stories, Dnet, futurestartup, mPower and team engine.

This year, the event brought together over 100 policy experts, social enterprise and social investment intermediaries and practitioners from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.

The dialogue will facilitate the continuation of the development of a network of policy influencers, social entrepreneurs, academia and private sector enterprise specialists in East Asia, South Asia, and the UK. Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, is coming as the keynote speaker for this event to share the UK’s policies and best practice around the Social Enterprise sector.

Kabir Bin Anwar, Director General (Admin), Prime Minister’s Office, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Project Director (PD), Access To Information( A2I)Programme inaugurated the event as the chief guest. David Ashley, Deputy British High Commissioner in Bangladesh and Jim Scarth OBE, Deputy Director British Council Bangladesh were also present as special guests.

The event took place at a pivotal moment for Bangladesh. Bangladesh has been a global pioneer in social enterprise and there is a long-standing tradition of commercial models delivering socially minded services and goods.

Bangladesh is set to reach middle-income country status by 2021, which both means that there is a growth in entrepreneurial activity but also that some big donors may reprioritize towards least developed and developing countries.

Furthermore, the recently published State of Social Enterprise survey evidences the important contribution and emerging role that social enterprises are playing in addressing the challenges faced by communities across the country:

  • Young people and women play a more prominent role in leading social enterprises than in mainstream enterprises.
  • Social Enterprises are young, with the majority of social enterprises less than 6 years old.
  • Social Enterprises are optimistic about growth
  • 32% of Social Enterprises are addressing the critical skills challenge that Bangladesh faces.

This emerging evidence suggests a bright future for social enterprises in Bangladesh. The 2017 forum is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs, development professionals, social investors and policy makers to come together for a two-day policy dialogue in order to share and learn from experiences and to identify opportunities to accelerate the growth of social enterprise in Bangladesh.

In addition to the State of Social Enterprise survey, 2016 saw the publication of the Social Enterprise Policy Landscape in Bangladesh. These two reports along with a range of other emerging sources of evidence are beginning to build a robust picture of social enterprises in Bangladesh and have identified some of the key challenges that they face:

  • A lack of technical skills and debt finance are the two biggest constraints faced by social enterprises.
  • A lack of public awareness about social enterprises is seen as a significant barrier to growth.
  • A better understanding of the specific sectors where social enterprises could deliver additional impact is required.

Collaboration with and clarity around the role of government will be increasingly important for social enterprises to grow.

Bangladesh has enjoyed economic growth above six per cent over the last decade and has a thriving start-up sector. The consistent economic growth of Bangladesh and its rising geopolitical importance is going to sustain only if the women, the youth, and the underprivileged are afforded opportunities to actively participate in the workforce. Social enterprises, as the study reveals, can be among the major sectors providing that opportunity. However, the sector is in strong need of timely support and recognition, and its potential requires acknowledgment from the policy makers.

This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
No Comments