In Research


Year: 2015
Published in: ICSEM Working Papers
Cited as: Littlewood, D. & Holt, D. (2015) “Social Enterprise in South Africa”, No. 02.


The aim of the 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 last decade or so, our 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 in order to strengthen sound policy decision-making as well as effective organization and management of these organizations, 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 our understanding of the geographically distinct manifestations of social enterprise in South Africa. At the same time, it aims to present a research agenda in order to move social entrepreneurship in South Africa forward.