Positioning Social Enterprises in the Policy Agenda: Road to Travel


Thanks to public policies promoted by governments, social enterprises have been able to develop more strongly in Europe, where it is estimated that the entire social economy involves over 11 million people, about 6% of the active labor force. It represents USD 92 billion of the UK economy, with more than 2 million jobs, while in the U.S. it is estimated that the sector represents 3.5 % of GDP and 10 million jobs.

Latin America is lagging behind in this respect, where there is still no legal or regulatory framework for social enterprise or recognition of the potential of these businesses to address critical social issues. At the same time, there is growing evidence that the State can play an important role in helping this sector to grow and have the impact that it has demonstrated in other countries.

Positioning Social Enterprises in the Public Agenda: Road to Travel, grew from both this concern as well as this opportunity. The authors set out to document, understand and disseminate good practices in policies for social enterprises, and ultimately to contribute to the development of the sector in Latin America and globally. The book introduces a model of how to position the issue on the public agenda in a way that responds to the most urgent social needs of the country and the sector, building on existing local policies as well as those from other countries, and involving stakeholders in permanent dialogue. The Road to Travel, aimed at public policymakers and key sector players, includes 34 cases of best practices in public policy and a strategy to move faster to address our most intractable problems through a new economy.


“NESsT has produced a groundbreaking piece of thought leadership with global ramifications. The manual provides a compelling and practical synthesis of best thinking from around the world as the work of social entrepreneurs comes into sharper focus everywhere. As a result, the approaches and frameworks that NESsT has created should be embraced in Chile and Brazil certainly, but will have far broader application. The Impact Investing Policy Collaborative looks forward to doing its part to share and learn from NESsT’s important research.” – Ben Thornley, Managing Director, Pacific Community Ventures (Co-Convenor of the Impact Investing Policy Collaborative)

“Building more equitable and sustainable countries depends on the efforts of multiple actors. Positioning Social Enterprise in the Policy Agenda: Road to Travel makes a case for this collaborative effort and demonstrates through a variety of cases, the importance of social enterprise in society. The publication challenges us to explore and reflect on the process of co-creation and how business, government and civil society can interact to solve social problems. It invites us to impact the public agenda through policies that are able to enhance the management of these organizations.

From Chile, we are committed as a government to encourage and support these efforts through the Agenda for Productivity, Innovation and Growth launched in May 2014. One of the 47 commitments of this Agenda is to present Congress with bill to develop a legal framework for social enterprises, establishing their rights and obligations and giving them the legal framework needed to operate. In addition, a formal record for these companies will be created.
We are convinced that these steps, together with the strong commitment of social entrepreneurs to create new initiatives, expand existing ones and actively collaborate with each other and with society, will open new avenues for this new type of organization, organizations that are different from both the traditional private and nonprofit sectors.” – Luis Felipe Céspedes, Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, Chile.

“NESsT is to be congratulated for launching this publication which represents an important step in creating an enabling and appropriate environment for the integration of social business in the public policy agenda.” – Krishna Aum de Faria, Social Business Manager, Sebrae National

“Social businesses emerge as an alternative to seeking scalable solutions to persistent and complex social challenges. As a new field that is still under construction, we have a unique opportunity to reinvent models and establish more innovative relationships with its different stakeholders. Given that these are social businesses whose main objective is to generate public benefit, the importance of seeking synergies and complementarities with existing government policies and programs as well as to identify how the public sector can create a more favorable environment for the creation and expansion of these businesses is critical.

This new publication from NESsT contributes to widen and improve how we reflect on the different ways that social
business can engage with the public sector, and in so doing to stimulate the creation of an ecosystem of actors who act in a more efficient and integrated way in the search for greater social impact.” – Vivianne Naigeborin, Strategic Advisor, Potencia Ventures

“The obstacles faced by social/environmental businesses include the lack of incentives provided by large corporations to incorporate small and medium sized social/environmental businesses into their value chains, bureaucratic procedures and taxation that penalize entrepreneurial initiatives, excessive regulation, few investors that line their financial return expectations to the what can actually be generated by social/environmental businesses, and the lack of public policies that foster their development. The study developed by NESsT presents a valuable contribution to all who work in the social/environmental business sector because it presents topics on how to position the issue of social businesses in the public agenda with examples that illustrate ways to do so within the current context of Brazil and Chile.” – Graziella Maria Comini and Rosa Maria Fischer, Coordinators, Center of Social Entrepreneurship and Third Sector Management, Faculty of Economy, Administration and Accounting, University of São Paulo.

ISBN 978-1-930363-38-0
ISBN 978-1-930363-37-3

Where can I get this book?

O Caminho a Seguir – Manual – Português – HERE

O Caminho a Seguir – Sumário Executivo – Português – HERE

Road to Travel – Executive Summary – English – HERE

Ruta a Seguir – Manual – Español – HERE

Ruta a Seguir – Resumen Ejecutivo – Español – HERE