CISE Helps Move Social Entrepreneurship into Official Development Assistance Mainstream


The global Social Entrepreneurship movement has yet to become a key feature of Official Development Assistance (ODA) organizations’ development strategies. Why is this so? There are three principal reasons. First, despite three decades of experience, the phenomenon is not widely understood in the ODA community. Second, there is a degree of skepticism that social entrepreneurship is more of a fad than a true development approach. Third, because the transactions costs are high in identifying and scaling social and economic innovations, the ODA community is not well equipped to support social entrepreneurship as a core element of its broader sustainability strategy. Recognizing this need, CISE Director Mark Belcher helped conceive and launch a ground breaking professional volunteer program at Booz Allen Hamilton that brings the capabilities of a global management consulting firm to directly support social entrepreneurs in addressing their toughest business challenges – how to scale their innovations. Today more than 250 volunteers are committed to supporting social entrepreneurs through a variety of consulting assignments including organizational strategy, back office optimization, people development, strategic communications, and other critical business management needs.

Now at CISE, Mark and others are working to refine a methodology to help move social entrepreneurship into the Official Development Assistance mainstream. The methodology is an extension of a three-stage approach that Mark helped develop and refine through a series of Private Sector Development Projects funded by the U.S. government. Based on the research of Everett Rogers and others about how innovations take root in a society, this methodology addresses the two main challenges to mainstreaming social entrepreneurship. The first is how to identify those social entrepreneurs whose innovations have a high potential for broad, lasting, and positive impact. The second is how to provide custom-tailored technical support on a cost-effective basis to help high-potential entrepreneurs scale their innovations. While the development work continues, CISE is seeking opportunities to pilot the approach within an on-going private sector development project as a proof of concept. For further information, please contact Mark Belcher.

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