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Social Enterprise and Impact Investing

The Global Compact’s work on social enterprise is inspired by three converging trends 1) the growing global corporate sustainability movement, 2) growing awareness of global challenges and 3) the growth of impact investing. These trends provide the business case for various relevant stakeholders to collaborate to bring creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges.

By focusing on these emerging trends the Global Compact seeks to facilitate partnerships among social enterprises, corporations, investors and policy makers in order to identify and scale promising solutions to global challenges.


  • Social enterprise development is defined as creating and nurturing micro-, small-and medium-sized businesses that aim for positive social or environmental outcomes while generating financial returns;
  • Impact investing is defined as the placement of capital (into social enterprises and other structures) with the intent to create benefits beyond financial return.

Social enterprise and impact investing overlap significantly, although they are not synonymous. Social enterprises, for example, need more than just investment capital to be successful, while impact investments can be made into non-enterprise structures like loan or equity funds or infrastructure projects..

Currently the Global Compact is developing a Social Enterprise Action Hub, an online meeting place for social entrepreneurs, corporations, impact investors, NGOs and policy-makers to connect and engage in collaborative actions to create positive impact on global challenges with large market potential that can also support United Nations priorities. The Social Enterprise Action Hub will be released at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2013. Upon release all relevant stakeholders will be encouraged to utilize this resource to find partners and take action.

Key Resource

A Framework for Action: Social Enterprise & Impact Investing: Guides investors, corporations and policymakers on engaging with social enterprises to create financial, social and environmental returns – outlining three key steps: prioritizing the rationale for engaging, defining a strategy, and choosing specific approaches to execute. (UN Global Compact/The Rockefeller Foundation, 2012). Download.


Engagement Opportunities

Expert Consultation Group (ECG): The ECG will be tasked with providing tactical guidance on the development and growth of the online platform features and content, as well as the activities constituting off-line support. Expert Consultation Group participants will be called upon to provide feedback on specific content and test features.


Securing the African Renaissance: Investing In Social Enterprise (24 May 2013, Addis Ababa)
This session, held at the Pan African Business Conference will highlight the growing opportunities in the social enterprise and impact investing domains, showcase models of successful social enterprise approaches to African development challenges, and encourage dialogue among a diverse set of stakeholders on the following topics:

  • Policy approaches necessary to create an enabling environment for social enterprises to flourish in Africa
  • Opportunities to create flexible financial products designed to support the growth of social enterprises
  • Collaboration opportunities among social enterprises, corporations, investors and governments
  • Building a pan-African approach to catalyzing the growth of local social enterprises


Rosedel Davies-Adewebi
rdaviesadewebi (at) unglobalcompact.org