Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are an important player in catalyzing innovative solutions to societal challenges. One of the biggest barriers preventing many social enterprises from scaling their operation and impact remains their lack of funding. While this has primarily been attributed to an insufficient supply of financing options available to social enterprises, scholars and financiers have recently started to remark challenges associated with a lack of demand for existing financing options. In line with this, scholars have highlighted a fragmented financing market, indicating that variations in supply and demand of financing depending on sector, geographical area or development phase. So far, the business model of social enterprises has not been vastly explored yet to study and analyze variations in the supply and demand of financing options. Analyzing the financing market through the lens of the business model is important for two reasons. First, it helps to understand whether the growth of the social enterprise financing market is benefitting all types of social enterprises equally, or whether the growth in supply only benefits a specific type of social enterprises. As business models vary in their degree of complexity and strategic tensions, they might influence the risk and return perceptions of financiers and therefore investment attractiveness. Second, the business model might also influence social enterprise’s need for financing, and the type of financing that is considered appropriate and attainable. Our team member Karoline Heitmann is working on a PhD dissertation to assess how the  business model influences a social enterprise’s financing strategy and the likeliness of receiving external financing.