From pioneering programs in slum housing to mobile phone banking, Santiago and Nairobi are emerging hot spots for business leaders seeking to drive social change, according to a poll of experts on the best countries for social entrepreneurs.
Stephanie Koczela, co-founder of Nairobi-based Penda Health, a for-profit medical clinic group, said in richer countries, like the United States, people often ignored or dismissed social issues and enterprises but poorer nations saw the impact.
East Africa is one of the global centers of impact investing–the fledgling market in investing for social good–according to a 2015 report by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). This followed a major success in innovation by Kenya’s biggest communications operator, Safaricom, which pioneered a mobile money service called M-Pesa in 2007 that allows Kenyans to pay bills or receive funds on the simplest of mobile phones, giving people a new way of accessing banking. M-Pesa swept across the country and has been mimicked across Africa.
In Chile, it is support from the government which has fuelled the recent, fast-growing trend in social enterprises in and outside Santiago, experts say. Chile’s leading social entrepreneurs say access to government funding, the role of universities, a pool of well-educated Chileans, media interest and good internet connection have all helped make Santiago a hotbed for social entrepreneurs.
They said TECHO, a Santiago-based non-profit organization that tackles poverty and housing in slums, played a key role in raising awareness about doing social good after its 1997 set-up. TECHO, with a large network of young volunteers and now one of the largest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Latin America, has served as a platform to launch future leading social entrepreneurs and enterprises.