6.4.3 Amplify Social Enterprise to Engage Young People as Beneficiaries and/or Entrepreneurs

A social enterprise is a venture with a social purpose that is run as a business in order to be more customer-focused and efficient, and also in order to mobilize external, social investment. Social enterprises are sometimes launched by young, visionary leaders who manage to obtain funding – donations or commercial investments – through business planning competitions. Other social enterprises are launched by NGOs, sometimes as a way to “graduate” a project into a more sustainable service delivery model. Some consider cooperatives to be social enterprises in that they are businesses run for the benefit of members and often the broader community. A social enterprise can be as small as a small, community-based business or as large as a global corporation. Many social enterprises are characterized as “Small Growth Businesses” that are started by a high-potential, visionary entrepreneur and seek to grow to a large scale using social investment funds. Many social enterprises use fair trade principles. The viability of social enterprise is highly dependent on a corresponding social investment community. In some countries, such as India, a vibrant social investment and social enterprise sector is rapidly growing. 1

Successful Social Enterprise in Agribusiness

KickStart: 2Since 1991, Kickstart has sold 233,000 pumps, helped start 150,000 enterprises, and helped move 760,000 people out of poverty.3

BRAC Dairy, Bangladesh: 4Provides inputs and advice, and purchases, processes, and markets dairy products. BRAC Dairy has 101 collection and chilling stations located in 25 districts, including 10 located in ultra-poor areas. The enterprise can process 170,000 liters of milk every day and serves 40,000 farmers, 64 percent of whom are women. BRAC Dairy has 23 distributors and 35 sales centers nationwide, covering 16,000 outlets out of 23,000 and enjoys an overall market share of 22 percent with a dedicated consumer base of around 500,000. BRAC Dairy is one of BRAC’s largest enterprises and has annual profits of more than 2.7 million USD.5

There are several ways that young people engage in the social enterprises, with regards to agriculture and food security. 

  • As “beneficiaries:” some social enterprises seek to employ, purchase from or sell to young people in agricultural sectors.   
  • As entrepreneurs: some social enterprise programs seek to support young social entrepreneurs, a cohort of whom are developing social businesses in the agricultural sector.

The rural YEO field and the social enterprise community could advance this practice by identifying successful models and amplifying them through scale-up of particular social enterprises and replication in other contexts.  Ashoka,[1] the largest network of social entrepreneurs, has launched a youth initiative to support young social entrepreneurs, which includes finance, mentoring and an on-line community of practice.  Organizing a rural group within this community would advance practice for entrepreneurs and including social enterprises that target young people as beneficiaries, even if they are not launched by young people, would also amplify successful models. 

Young Social Entrepreneurs in Agri-business

MShabma, Kenya 6 : Inspired by the devastation of the 2011 famine, Simeon Ogonda launched MShamba to help millions of Kenyan farmers improve productivity and food security. MShamba is a mobile phone application, text message or interactive voice response service that provides farmers with agricultural information available through research institutions, government extension officers, and university research departments. Farmers access information directly or through extension agents and agro-input dealers who access MSamba.   By making valuable but easy-to-use information more widely available, Simeon envisions significant and widespread impact.  For example, some 5,000 rice farmers used information obtained through MSamba to increase yields by 150 percent while lowering their cost of production.

Mayorga Coffee Purchases From Student Businesses

Although registered as a for-profit company, Mayorga has a social mission: to seek and create sustainable growth opportunities for coffee farmers and communities. Mayorga’s core business is roasting, marketing and engaging consumers. Since 2007, Mayorga has partnered with Fabretto Children’s Foundation in Nicaragua. In Fabretto’s school-based entrepreneurship course, children “learn by earning.” Participants establish businesses, among them coffee businesses in which student play a range of roles from production to harvesting to only trading. In 2001, students launched 5 “junior” cooperatives that purchased from 300 producers and sold coffee to Mayorga Coffee.


  • 1. Ashoka’s mission is to support social entrepreneurs who are leading and collaborating with changemakers, in a team of teams model that addresses the fluidity of a rapidly evolving society.  Ashoka believes that anyone can learn and apply the critical skills of empathy, teamwork, leadership and change-making to be successful in the modern world.
  • 2.
  • 3. www.kickstart.org
  • 4.
  • 5. Social Enterprise, http://www.brac.net/content/brac-dairy#.UpfBKyjyu0s.
  • 6. MShamba is an initiative of Spring Break Kenya, which aims at community integration by building transformative networks and partnerships between students in institutions of higher learning with rural communities in Kenya.