SEWF’s Global Mapping to launch in August 2021

by Maeve Curtin / July 2021

Support for and interest in the global social enterprise movement continues to accelerate. Over the past two years, as we have grappled and continue to grapple with the pandemic, governments and communities are turning to social enterprise as a tool to build a fairer and more sustainable world.

Increased attendance at SEWF events reflects this interest in, and strength of, the social enterprise movement. In 2020, live attendance at our flagship event, SEWF Digital, increased by 48% from SEWF 2019. Over the past 3 years, SEWF’s attendance by the number of countries has also increased. With individuals from 47 countries attending in 2018, 71 countries attending in 2019 and finally a record-breaking 100 countries represented by attendees in 2020. In the past year alone, there was a 41% increase in countries attending.

As we continue to engage with more social enterprise leaders and supporters from more countries than ever before, it is increasingly imperative that we understand the scale and essence of the social enterprise sector in these countries. Not only will this help us as we endeavour to build and connect the social enterprise movement globally, but it will also enable us to engage critical stakeholders, like corporate procurement leads, in countries where limited information is publicly available about its social enterprise sector.

SEWF has been slowly working with our global community to collect information on the social enterprise sector in as many countries as possible. This global mapping project is focused more on breadth rather than depth: we attempt to understand the unique ways in which social enterprise is understood and operationalised in as many countries as possible and to capture the essence of the social enterprise ecosystem without reporting every detail. Each country profile will contain information on the following:

  • recognition of social enterprise
  • popular terms for social enterprise
  • number of social enterprises and
  • formal networks, legal structures and strategies that exist to support social enterprises.


This is a secondary research project in nature: most of the information has been gathered from existing primary reports like those developed by researchers within the EMES Network mapping social enterprise ecosystems in Europe or from the British Council’s extensive work co-creating international methodology for and mapping the “State of Social Enterprise” in many countries and regions around the world. While we refer to this as our global mapping project, it is not a mapping study in a technical sense; although, we can point to other exemplars in Scotland and Australia that help evidence the size and scale of the sector in those countries because of their rigorous methodologies and collective support for the research from within the sector.

Instead, the database on the SEWF website will be the first international collection of information on social enterprise globally that spans regions and continents. These introductory profiles will help SEWF better support ecosystem development through the identification of needs and help more people understand the scale and scope of social enterprise nationally as well as globally. By the end of July 2021, we look forward to releasing our first batch of social enterprise country profiles.

This project is ongoing and will remain one of SEWF’s key research initiatives moving forward as we expand the database and make it more accessible. We invite you to participate, by contributing information about your own country where we don’t currently have a profile or by submitting updates to us as the social enterprise ecosystem in your country evolves.

Thank you for contributing to this project and for working with us to grow the social enterprise movement.

Maeve is SEWF's Policy & Research Manager