Governments and social entrepreneurs can be key allies in accelerating structural change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a report from Ashoka, Catalyst 2030, Echoing Green, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Skoll Foundation finds.
Based on existing research and more than fifty interviews with government representatives and "systems social entrepreneurs," the study, New Allies: How governments can unlock the potential of social entrepreneurs for the common good (65 pages, PDF), argues that social entrepreneurs who take a systemic approach to social issues — working to change policies, practices, power dynamics, social norms, or mindsets — are more likely to develop innovative solutions that complement governments' macro-level perspectives and create financial benefits for societies.
The report proposes five ways in which governments can support such entrepreneurs and accelerate the translation of their solutions into policies or programs: leverage the power of information by sharing and co-creating data; support mutual understanding among civil servants and social entrepreneurs; develop funding models that recognize the characteristics of social entrepreneurs; promote collaboration between and among public-sector organizations and the private and social sectors; and foster institutionalization of innovations by co-creating or adopting them.
"Systemic change approaches are long-term processes that require patience, learning, and collaboration," the report's authors write. "While they have the potential to create substantial societal impact, they do not necessarily create financial returns for investors or upscaling in a traditional understanding of the term. That is why it makes sense for governments to support these processes. When governments create ecosystems in which systems social entrepreneurs can thrive, they can better drive the deep and lasting social change that contributes to a world of prosperity, equity, and sustainability for all."