Social Enterprises and Poverty AlleviationSocial entrepreneurship is a market-based solution to alleviating poverty. Grameen micro-credit programs are among the most well-known examples of this approach to improving the lives of impoverished families. In the last three decades, there has been a surge of similar initiatives providing livelihoods, appropriate technology, education, market access, market information, healthcare, and many other inputs and services that had been previously inaccessible to the poor. These de facto businesses are designed to be self-sustaining through the revenues they generate, even as they provide relief to disenfranchised segments of the population. Social entrepreneurship is not a substitute for traditional forms of poverty alleviation, such as direct basic-needs provision, because successful market participation has preconditions that the poor are often unable to meet. Nevertheless, social enterprises provide a new venue for lifting people out of poverty under the right conditions. Numerous anecdotal accounts illustrate both the positive impact and the potential of these programs.
Prof. A. Barrera
Professor in Economics