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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..

Key Resources

The Social Enterprise Action Hub: an online platform where social enterprises, corporations, investors, Governments and NGOs can take collective action to create and advance innovative business models with social impact to address global development challenges. The Social Enterprise Action Hub aims to: showcase innovative business models with social impact; inspire stakeholders to engage in collaborative action to create and advance market-based responses to sustainability challenges; and catalyze partnerships among social enterprises, corporations, investors, NGOs and Governments on projects that create mutual benefit for stakeholders and beneficiaries. Access the Social Enterprise Action Hub

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.


Social Enterprise Collaboration Lab – Brazil (18 November 2014, Sao Paulo)
The Social Enterprise Collaboration Lab helps interested stakeholders to discover new business and partnership models that are designed to advance innovations that create both social and commercial benefit. Collaboration Lab participants will discover new business models, meet prospective innovation partners, and access a set of resources designed to support partnership formation and project implementation.

The event will convene social businesses (social enterprises), corporations, SMEs, investors and other stakeholders with a shared interest in creating positive social or environmental outcomes while generating financial returns. For the Collaboration Lab in Brazil, the priority theme will be business-related water and sanitation challenges. The Social Enterprise Collaboration Lab – Brazil will be convened by the UN Global Compact with supporting partners Global Compact Network Brazil and Venture Partners do Brasil.

For more details email: socialenterprise@unglobalcompact.org


Rosedel Davies-Adewebi
rdaviesadewebi (at) unglobalcompact.org