Best country to be a social entrepreneur revealed

The best country in the world to be a social entrepreneur is the US, according to a new survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The foundation unveiled the results of a global survey at the SOCAP conference in San Francisco. The survey was conducted in partnership with Deutsche Bank, UnLtd and the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN).

Canada came in second in the poll, with the UK ranked third.

However, when asked whether social enterprise was gaining momentum, the UK scored much lower, in 27th place, with concerns coming to the fore about the country's position in the world after the Brexit decision to leave the EU.

The UK has a mature social enterprise market, with the British government announcing a social enterprise policy in 2002 and social investment tax relief introduced in 2014.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “Britain is one of the best countries to start-up and run a social enterprise.”

However, he added: "While there is no blueprint to know what will happen after Brexit, we can expect there will be less government support, financially and in terms of policy, because there will be some economic contraction.” 

Alarm bells have also been raised by the decision to move responsibility for social enterprise from the Cabinet Office (the department that supports the Cabinet, the decision-making body of UK government) to the department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Nine hundred academics, social entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers and support network staff in 45 of the world’s biggest economies were surveyed in order to compile the list. Half of the respondents were social entrepreneurs.

Asia was identified as the best region to be a female social entrepreneur leader, with the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Thailand all in the top ten.

Awareness of what social entrepreneurs do was surprisingly low in countries where social enterprise is growing, including Ireland and Australia, which both ranked in the bottom five. Half of respondents in the UK thought the general public understood what social entrepreneurs do.

The worst place to be a social entrepreneur? Turkey. Only 31% thought it was possible to make a living as a social entrepreneur in the country and only 27% thought it was a favourable place to start and grow their businesses. Turkey ranked bottom in six out of the 12 questions in the survey.

The survey consisted of 12 questions that covered areas such as access to finance, government support and commercial opportunities. The full list, along with further details about where different countries ranked in different categories, is available on an admirably user-friendly website.

Photo credit: Michael Battaglia