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UK falls in ranking of best countries for social entrepreneurs

UK falls in ranking of best countries for social entrepreneurs

Canada, Australia and France are the best countries to be a social entrepreneur, according a study, while the UK has fallen from third place to 13th since 2016.

The results of the global perception poll, conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in partnership with Deutsche Bank’s Made for Good programme, show that Britain has dropped ten places since the inaugural survey of the world’s 45 biggest economies was carried out in 2016, although London is still seen as a leading hotspot. The holder of first place in 2016, the US dropped further, to become 32nd.

The survey polled almost 900 experts to establish trends, opportunities and challenges related to the business-for-purpose sector. It surveyed six key areas; government support, attracting skilled staff, public understanding, ability for social entrepreneurs to make a living, whether the sector was gaining momentum and access to investment.

The findings also include polls on where women fare best as social entrepreneurs, compared to 2016, and an inaugural poll on the role of social entrepreneurs aged under 25.

The former takes into account two questions: representation in leadership roles in social enterprises and the gender pay gap. Here, the UK fell one place, from 18th to 19th, while the US ranked last, and Canada, Australia and Belgium took the top three places. 67% of respondents thought that women were well represented in leadership roles overall, but only 44% thought female leaders were paid the same as men.

The inaugural youth ranking takes into account two questions: interest in working in social enterprises and the impact of having younger people involved in the sector. Here, the UK came second to last, between Russia and Poland, with Canada, Germany and France at the top.

Overall, most asked believed social entrepreneurship was gaining momentum around the world. However, more than half said the public still did not understand what they did.

In the UK, Brexit dominating the political agenda was blamed for slowing the pace of the sector’s development. In Scotland, though, the results suggest that social enterprise is thriving.

Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation said:

“From building schools from plastic waste, to training women in rural villages in solar engineering, social enterprise is a rapidly growing sector. By using innovation to address critical social and environmental issues, social enterprise is increasingly relied upon to reduce inequality and help the world’s most disadvantaged people.”

“However, this survey has revealed some surprising changes in how the sector is viewed in different nations. Perception of social enterprise is crucial. It affects everything from access to finance, to the quality of employees. We hope that greater understanding of social enterprise will provide the sector with vital information to generate future growth.”

Lareena Hilton, Global Head of Brand Communications and CSR for Deutsche Bank added:

“Social entrepreneurs around the world are shaking up traditional marketplaces and introducing innovative solutions to meet the growing needs of communities. Deutsche Bank is proud to support this research and be part of a growing momentum that appreciates this exciting sector, as well as supporting its development around the world.

“Through our global CSR Made for Good programme we know how vulnerable social entrepreneurs can be not only at early stage but also throughout their growth, and the importance of accelerator and incubators for success. Repeating this poll has shone a light on the countries that have nurtured and strengthened the sector since 2016, as well as revealing those where work is needed to improve the understanding of social entrepreneurs and the obstacles to become investment ready.”



Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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