Why now? For years, experts have foreshadowed a time of great growth for social enterprise in China. A 2012 UBS report noted, “…40% of China-based respondents rated the emergence of social entrepreneurship as the most highly-anticipated trend.” Only recently, though, has this actually come to light.
Part of this is due to a lack of trust for social good among Chinese. In 2011, a high-profile case of mishandled Red Cross funds sent charitable donations falling by half. Another reason is a lack of clarity on what social entrepreneurship actually means. Many equate social entrepreneurship to philanthropy or charity. Those in the vanguard are building trust and clarity, but it is an uphill battle.
It seems that now, all of a sudden, the pieces are falling into place. In 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission reported 10,000 new daily applications for entrepreneurial endeavors. A small number of these handles social causes. Statistics, though, show a clear uptick from only a few years prior. In Shanghai, I can’t go a day without hearing about the latest social enterprise. In many respects, the social enterprise market is now as cutthroat as any other. Groups are fighting for influence in an increasingly noisy space.
There are three key reasons social entrepreneurship in China is experiencing a perfect storm for growth.
Over the next several months, John’s Little Green Book will talk to those on the forefront of social entrepreneurship in China. Some are working to provide skills and job opportunities for teenage migrants. Others are injecting a bit of cool into an outmoded form of transportation. Many tap into the growing connectivity mobile technology allows. Then, there are those that focus on a more personalized approach. Stay tuned to learn more about China’s fastest moving space.
If you know of, or have, a social enterprise you would like featured on JLGB, please reach out.