Avia Collinder, Business Writer
An examination of social entrepreneurship activity (SEA) and established social enterprises in the Caribbean region shows that as much as 60 per cent of all enterprises engage in income generation or the selling of products for survival.
The findings are from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) for the period 2009 to 2011, which also shows that there are 38 per cent which are still fully dependent on grants, charity, philanthropy, donations, government transfers and other resources.
The report, released on October 3, 2012, reveals that the propensity to form social enterprises increases as education levels rise. Among the people with graduate experience, SEA reached 3.55 per cent.
GEM defines social entrepre-neurship as any effort made by a group or person or organisation to create a new business, expand an existing one with the express purpose of improving social or community welfare and where benefits are invested with the same aim, instead of returning them to investors.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor project is an annual assessment of the entrepreneurial activity, aspirations and attitudes of individuals across 54 countries in 2011.
From the data provided between 2009 and 2011, established social enterprises presented with the highest values for income generation, with more than 50 per cent of them securing in excess of 60 per cent of funds required for budget from sales.
In new enterprises, only 50 per cent make as much as 30 per cent of budget from sales.
The report also shows that more men than women are engaged in creating social enterprises, but Jamaican women show the highest propensity to develop new social enterprises.
SEA is defined as the total adult population, aged 18 to 64 years, who are actually involved in a social enterprise which has been paying salaries for less than 42 months. Globally, the proportion is highest in Tonga, and lowest in Trinidad and Tobago, where there are none.
For Jamaica, the SEA rate is 1.6 per cent for women, followed by Venezuela at 1.5 per cent and Colombia at 1.3 per cent.
Regional participants in the SEA global survey included Jamaica, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama and Guatemala. The survey is intended to measure, characterise and compare social entrepreneurship in the region and around the world.
In terms of enterprise type, Dr Rodrigo Varela, director of GEM Caribbean, said "most of the social enterprises identified have given priority to economic value generation. Social value generation falls below, but is still higher than those organisations which have a commitment to environmental value generation."
The results indicate that new social entrepreneurial activity is still low in all countries and well below the total entrepreneurial activity measured by GEM.
The 25-34 age grouping presents the highest propensity for new social entrepreneurial activity, followed by 35 to 44-year-olds.
For established business, however, the 45-54 age group ranks highest followed by 35 to 44-year-olds.
But overall, less than 40 per cent of entrepreneurs dedicate full time to social enterprise, the report said.
"The usual scheme is to attend social enterprise as a part-time job or even as something done in the entrepreneur's free time. Similar behaviour was observed for established enterprises," said Varela.
"The level of commitment of management within enterprises, whether new or established, is also not high, because just 30 per cent of entrepreneurs consider themselves as the manager, with 60 per cent committing to managing half and 10 per cent not involved in management at all," he said.
Three-quarters of all enterprises surveyed had less than 10 full-time employees, while in 78 per cent there were as many as 10 volunteers working.
The research indicates that enterprises which transition to established phase have more than ten full-time workers.