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A new model for supporting social enterprise through sustainable investment

Zia ul Islam (Chief Instructor at the National Institute of Public Administration, Karachi, Pakistan)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 30 March 2007




To present a practitioner’s view on the experiences of the HELP Foundation, Pakistan, in finding practicable ways of helping poor people to escape the poverty trap through the setting up of sustainable institutions and social enterprises.


A review of the literature of fund availability and public policies is presented. Discusses the origin and work of the HELP Foundation, a not‐for‐profit organization (NPO) formed by a consortium of professionals, business people, industrialists and public servants, to develop a robust model for poverty‐alleviation through social enterprise. Examines the approaches used to finance the organization and the changes required at public and individual levels to establish sustainable institutions based on the new model. Reports the gathering of data through surveys and interviews with clients, staff and HELP Foundation benefactors to reveal the mixed results of micro‐finance and the difficulties faced when setting up social enterprises in a poor country.


The success of the HELP Foundation in deriving a novel model for a workable partnership between NPOs and slum‐level entrepreneurs is reported. Argues that social enterprises can be set up in urban slums through joint ventures between an NPO funder and small businesses that have the capacity to expand. Concludes that such joint ventures should be entered into only after trust has been established between the business person and the NPO. While the involvement of respected members of the locality, transparent processes and close monitoring are all necessary for the social enterprise’s success.


Reveals how the social enterprise concept can be made to work even in conditions of extreme poverty.



ul Islam, Z. (2007), "A new model for supporting social enterprise through sustainable investment", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 1-9.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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