The purpose of this paper is to present a tentative typology of social enterprises in South Africa. It also tries to establish a base line on the current state of social entrepreneurship in South Africa. While the term seems to have been appearing more and more frequently in both the public and political domain in the past decade or so, the current knowledge of social enterprise in South Africa (as in Africa more broadly) remains very limited.
This paper tries to address this dearth of academic literature on social entrepreneurship in South Africa by reviewing the extant academic and grey literature as well as various policy documents with the aim of discerning the various legal forms under which social enterprises can incorporate.
The paper distinguishes three avenues for incorporation: as a non-profit entity, a for-profit entity or a hybrid structure.
It calls for both rigorous and systematic empirical and theoretical work that is grounded in the realities of the country to strengthen sound policy decision-making as well as effective organisation and management of these organisations, which can play a crucial role in both economic and social development of South Africa.
As part of the International Comparative Social Enterprise Models (ICSEM) project, this paper contributes to the understanding of the geographically distinct manifestations of social enterprise in South Africa. At the same time, it aims to present a research agenda to move social entrepreneurship in South Africa forward.
The author is grateful for the insights and comments given by Susan Steinman, Rejoice Shumba, Jacques Defourny and Marthe Nyssens on earlier versions of this paper.
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