The Hidden Power of Social Enterprise (Infoboxx)
My latest column for Infoboxx on the hidden power of social enterprise to impact development, and how Ghana can learn from socent magnets like Kenya and Bangladesh.
Social enterprise’s unique hybrid focus on social and economic factors can often make it better suited than conventional private sector or public sector actors to address the multifaceted nature of poverty. As private sector companies focus on profit maximization, they often create problems such as environmental pollution or low wages that perpetuate the poverty trap. Decades of inefficiency in the NGO world have lead to a proliferation of barometers to access intervention and a narrow focus on indicators over long-term strategic projects.
In some countries like Bangladesh, home to microfinance heavyweights Brac and Grameen, or Kenya, home to up-and-comers such as Ruby Cup or Totohealth, social enterprise has made a big impact.
Totohealth, for example, uses mobile technology to detect child development abnormalities and improve access to maternal and child health information for the marginalized communities. The SMS-based platform monitors indicators on milestones to help in timely detection of abnormal growth in children below 5 years.
However, elsewhere in the Global South, like in Ghana, the social enterprise trend has been slower to catch on.