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Social enterprise in Africa
Virtual special issue

Emerging markets case studies

This is a virtual special issue of Emerging Markets Case Studies (EMCS) which brings together a collection of teaching case studies on social enterprise in Africa.

Social enterprises are highly embedded in their context; hence, social entrepreneurial activities and practices vary greatly across contexts (Rivera-Santos, Holt, Littlewood, & Kolk, 2015). These differences stem from contrasting forces – political, social, society, institutional, historical, spatial, and temporal dimensions – that exist in the external environment.

Following this context-based, contingency view of social entrepreneurship, we have published a number of cases that illustrate how social entrepreneurial activities originate, unfold and develop in African contexts. This special case collection aims to contribute towards addressing the gap in knowledge and theory about social entrepreneurship within and across the African countries (Bacq & Janssen, 2011; Littlewood & Holt, 2015a; Littlewood & Holt, 2015b; Rivera-Santos, Holt, Littlewood, & Kolk, 2015).

We have published case studies that address social entrepreneurship, the social economy, and social ventures.

Guest editors

Dr Alex Bignotti, Senior Lecturer, Unit for Social Entrepreneurship in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria

Mohamed Farhoud, Research Fellow, Unit for Social Entrepreneurship in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria

Kerryn Krige, Chief Technical Advisor, International Labour Organization

Creating change through social entrepreneurship: the case of girls’ school dropouts in Uganda

Authors: Isa Nsereko, Alex Bignotti, Mohamed Farhoud

Subject area: Entrepreneurship

The case tells the story of Dr Engr Moses Musaazi, who is a social entrepreneur and Managing Director of Technology for Tomorrow (T4T). Troubled with the persistent social problems in his country. Musaazi, through T4T, strived for social innovations to reduce school dropouts of Ugandan girls. While exploring Moses’ journey for solving persistent social problems through social innovations, students will be able to understand, remember, analyse and apply Dees’ (2001) social entrepreneurial behaviours and Santos’ (2012) theory of social entrepreneurship. The case discusses what motivates African social entrepreneurs to start a social venture (Ghalwash, Tolba and Ismail, 2017). Students will apply Personal Initiative Theory to identify the social entrepreneurial behaviours displayed in the creation of social ventures. To exemplify and analyse the different components of social ventures’ business model, the Social Business Model Canvas by Burkett (2020) will be introduced.

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Social entrepreneurship & SDGs: case studies from Northeast Nigeria

Authors: Fardeen Dodo, Lukman Raimi, Edward Bala Rajah

Subject area: Social entrepreneurship, Sustainable entrepreneurship, Institutional entrepreneurship

The use of entrepreneurship to deliver profound social impact is a much needed but poorly understood concept. Although we can generally recognize social enterprises when we see them, we lack a common approach to understanding and measuring the different ways they create social value for us. We also lack an appropriate method for reducing the difficulties of starting and developing them in the difficult conditions of developing countries. In the northeast of Nigeria for example, the mammoth challenge of rebuilding communities in an unfavourable entrepreneurship environment makes the need for a solution even direr. This case study illustrates a model of promoting entrepreneurship that advances the conditions of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in local communities using a configuration of the key theories of social impact entrepreneurship (variants of entrepreneurship with blended value or mission-orientation, including social entrepreneurship, sustainable entrepreneurship and institutional entrepreneurship). The extent to which ventures can adjust and improve the extent of their contributions to the SDGs are shown using examples of three entrepreneurs at different stages of growth. By learning from this case study, students can understand how entrepreneurs can identify and exploit social impact opportunities in the venture's business model, within the network of primary stakeholders as well as in the wider institutional environment with the support of Impact+, a simple impact measurement praxis.

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Toilets for all: corporate social entrepreneurship in Bangladesh and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

Authors: Juanita Trusty, Frances Fabian, Michelle Amy Montague-Mfuni

Subject area: Entrepreneurship

This case uniquely challenges students by introducing the history of how LIXIL transformed its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program to create shared value within the global sanitation sector by launching the SATO business unit as a social enterprise. SATO is a “self-sustaining social business that establishes a local Make, Sell, Use cycle in the community—creating jobs and allowing local manufacturers and stakeholders to continue the business independently” (LIXIL, 2019). From 2012 to 2021, NGOs helped the company design and market the SATO toilet pan and other products that form the SATO business unit. The SATO business unit must balance its social mission of improved sanitation with the need to gain a profit and become a sustainable business—the ongoing challenge of social entrepreneurship.

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Yola EcoSentials, Nigeria: waste-to-wealth community social enterprise

Authors: Mokhalles Mohammad Mehdi, Sandip Rakshit, Jelena Zivkovic

Subject area: Entrepreneurship, Market segmentation/target markets, Social enterprise, Small businesses, Strategy

Yola EcoSentials (YES) was a social enterprise originated from American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, capital city of Adamawa, Nigeria. It was established in September, 2012. It started with the mission to improve the environment, reduce waste and empower women. It engaged in production of hand bags, wallets, table mats, Ipad bags from the recycled waste items such as Nylons. YES was founded and spearheaded by Charles Reith (Chief executive officer). YES faced certain major challenges in expanding its business namely, maintenance of quality products, accountability of business operations including personal income savings plan and source of new customers. Moreover, YES was having a serious concern of project sustainability due to the availability and division of insufficient raw materials to operate their business. With these challenges’ keeping in mind, in December 2016, YES planned to devise its growth strategy to operate their business run by local women in Yola, Nigeria.

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Standard microfinance bank, Nigeria: developing underserved markets

Authors: Sandip Rakshit, Mokhalles Mohammad Mehdi

Subject area: Strategy, Micro-finance, Market segmentation

Standard Microfinance Bank Limited (SMFB) was a private micro-finance bank situated at Yola, Adamawa State of Nigeria. It initially started as a community bank in 1992 to provide loans to individuals and small business owners in Adamawa. It started with the services of payment service and savings account with a limited lending capacity. It had become a full-fledged retail bank and was grown to 13 branches across Nigeria. It planned for expansion such as market development, product development and diversification by the year 2020. It had customer base of 60,000 till end December 2018. Vazheparambil Mani Francis was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the SMFB. The SMFB faced challenges such as operating the remote villages, lack of financial literacy among people, recovery of loan amount, submission of false credentials, and change of customer identity after loan by their customer. It was not going to be the easy task for him to operate the business of SMFB in Nigeria. However, in December 2018, Francis was facing a dilemma about the future success of SMFB business in Nigeria by looking into the challenges and complexities of business. Francis was determined to figure out the appropriate growth strategy for managing the challenges.

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Characteristics of women's leadership in African social enterprises: The Heartfelt Project, Bright Kids Uganda and Chikumbuso

Authors: Bok Gyo Jeong, Sara Compion

Subject area: Social enterprises, social entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, social dimension, global network, empowerment

The case stories of the three African social enterprises portray how female leaders have fostered sustainable organisations through prioritising social, over economic and governance investments. Martha Letsoalo, a former domestic worker, founded the Heartfelt Project in South Africa, which now employs fifteen women, ships products all around the world, and enriches the community of Makapanstad with its workshop, training and education centre. Victoria Nalongo Namusisi, daughter of a fisherman in rural Uganda, founded Bright Kids Uganda, a thriving care facility, school, and community centre that educates vulnerable children, empowers victims of gender-based violence, and distributes micro-loans to female entrepreneurs. Gertrude, abandoned in Lusaka, Zambia, founded Chikumbuso, a home of resilience and remembrance to educate children and offer women employment in a cooperative business. Each case documents the founding years of the social enterprise and outlines some of the shared women’s leadership approaches. The case dilemma focuses on why and how women start social enterprises in socially and economically difficult contexts.

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Creating and sustaining social value through collaborative effort: the slum ambassadors of Bwaise

Authors: Diana Nandagire Ntamu, Waswa Balunywa, John Munene, Peter Rosa, Laura A. Orobia, Ernest Abaho

Subject area: Social entrepreneurship

The case focuses on Action for Fundamental Change and Development, a non-governmental organization founded by Mohammed Kisirisa and his three friends to support poor people in Bwaise, the largest slum in Kampala city. However, the AFFCAD team is struggling to financially sustain their activities in Bwaise community because the majority of their activities are supported by donor funding. The case demonstrates how the youngsters used their social ties in Bwaise community to create shared goals and acquire support to transform lives of vulnerable children, women and youth in a resource poor setting. A positive theory of social entrepreneurship (Santos, 2012) is applied to create understanding of the concept of social entrepreneurship. The case employs the social capital theory to demonstrate the role played by social ties in enabling social entrepreneurs access financial and non-financial support in a resource scarce context (Bourdieu, 1983; Coleman, 1988, 1990). The NCVO Income Spectrum is used as a tool to develop the options available for the AFFCAD team to sustain their activities in the absence of donor support.

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Scaling Girls’ Technical Education (GTE): bringing coding skills to women in Tanzania

Author: Kelly Alexander

Subject area: Management and strategy

The case study, presents Tanzanian social enterprise GTE College, and the growth challenges facing the award-winning CEO/Founder. GTE College is active in providing technology and coding skills in Tanzania, with a focus on educating women and girls. GTE College has already experienced significant success, and expanded into neighbouring Malawi. GTE College has a strong vision and mission, clearly articulated and prioritised by the Founder and his Board. Hybrid organisations, blending a social and financial mission, are expected to experience management tensions or mission drift, yet the clear mission of GTE seems to mitigate this. As an emerging organisational form, social enterprises like GTE College often face a number of hurdles regarding legitimacy, and acceptance in the markets in which they operate. GTE is working to understand the Tanzanian and regional contexts and challenges in these ecosystems, seeking to influence the norms and bring about a high level of positive impact in these countries.

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VillageReach: innovating for improved health care at the “last mile”

Authors: Cynthia Schweer Rayner, Camilla Thorogood, Francois Bonnici

Subject area: Social entrepreneurship, Social innovation, Social change

This case puts participants in the shoes of a global health innovator’s leadership team as the organisation approaches a funding crisis. The organisation, VillageReach, is on a quest to expand across the public health system of Mozambique and experiences a funding dilemma. The case reveals the challenges of working with governments to achieve large-scale, systemic change. It explores the conundrum of using international donor funding to embed new practices in government service delivery. Ultimately, it asks participants to choose between the pursuit of new, small-scale innovative projects and the large-scale rollout of a national programme.

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Emerging Markets Case Studies collection

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