Social enterprise is playing a growing role in support of women’s empowerment – notably, as a source of funding for women’s rights, a means of delivering training and creating employment, and as a way of empowering women socially and economically ©

British Council

Consisting of one global report and six country-specific companion studies, this research sheds light on the growing role that social enterprise plays in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

Activist to Entrepreneur: The Role of Social Enterprise in Supporting Women's Empowerment

The global report finds that social enterprises create proportionally more jobs for women than other sectors of the economy and that in all but one of these countries they provide more leadership opportunities for women too. It also finds that social enterprise is being used to generate funding for women’s rights organisations, deliver training for women and create economic empowerment for women through micro-entrepreneurship.

However, it notes that social enterprises reflect the gender inequalities in wider society, and that women social entrepreneurs earn less than their male counterparts. The report offers recommendations to maximise the impact of social entrepreneurship in advancing gender equality. (Adobe PDF 1.55MB)

The global report draws on research in Brazil, India, Pakistan, the UK and USA, and each of these countries is covered in one of the below companion studies. A companion study of Ghana was subsequently added to the collection in 2019.  

Activist to Entrepreneur: The Role of Social Enterprise in Supporting Women's Empowerment in ...


How are UK social enterprises addressing gender inequality? And to what extent are women’s organisations in the UK establishing their own social businesses to support their work? These are just two of the questions addressed in this companion study which explores enhanced ways of addressing and funding women’s empowerment and gender equality. (Adobe PDF 2.3MB)


This report sets out to establish how well social enterprise addresses gender inequality and women’s empowerment in Ghana, which is one of the few countries in the world where the rates of female entrepreneurship exceed those of male entrepreneurship. (Adobe PDF 4.37MB)


This comanion study enhances our knowledge of the role that social enterprise plays in empowering women and girls in India – notably by delivering training and creating jobs, by providing a source of funding for women's rights organisations, and by changing the power dynamic seen in other philanthropic models between the 'empowerer' and the 'empowered'. (Adobe PDF 3.23MB)


Social enterprise is playing a small but growing role in reducing gender inequality and supporting women’s empowerment in Pakistan, this study finds. In a country where women and girls face a lack of opportunities, discrimination and violence, social enterprise is providing proportionally more leadership, employment and training opportunities for women than the mainstream economy. (Adobe PDF 1.35MB)

United States

This study examines the role that social enterprise is playing in addressing gender inequality and women’s empowerment in the US, where women earn 65 cents for every dollar earned by a man and are chronically under-represented in positions of leadership. (Adobe PDF 985KB)

Brazil (in Portuguese)

Mais de 66% das empresas brasileiras não têm mulheres em posições executivas.Dentro deste contexto desafiador para o empoderamento das mulheres no Brasil, é oportuno explorar o papel que já está sendo desempenhado pelos negócios sociais, e as oportunidades para utilizarmos esta abordagem de forma mais complete. (Adobe PDF 1.22MB)