Social entrepreneurs’ perceptions on the contribution of networking toward organizational sustainability of social enterprises in Cape Town, South Africa
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The main aim of this study was to make contributions to the body of literature on social enterprises, and more specifically in an African context. The nascent nature of social enterprises as an organisational structure is one of the reasons that the body of research and literature is not as expansive as other more established research fields. Social enterprises differ from traditional commercial enterprises in that they bridge the gap between commercial growth, and social and economic development goals. For the purpose of this study, social enterprises refer to any business that pursues commercial activity to address a social problem. They are becoming more noticeable as a driver of sustainable job creation, service delivery, social development and economic growth. Ensuring their sustainability is expected to have positive economic consequences, which is why studying social enterprise sustainability is important and even more so for developing countries. Qualitative methodology was used to collect data. Purposive sampling was employed to select the sample that was included in the case study in Cape Town. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather information. The data was analysed using content thematic analysis to explore and interpret the meaning of the participants’ views and experiences. A networking approach of the social capital theory was used as the theoretical framework that provided a guide on the discussion of the findings. For the purpose of this study, social capital was defined as the resources embedded in networks. The findings indicated that the social entrepreneurs’ did not consider networking as the sole contributing factor to social enterprise sustainability, but rather the contribution of multidimensional factors. The resources embedded in networks that were considered valuable were: 1. Information and innovation, 2. Credibility, 3. Mentorship and advice, and 4. Support. The participants also gave their opinions on policies that would create favourable conditions for sustainable social enterprises i.e. information accessibility, public-private partnerships, and education and training. This study makes contributions to literature in an African context and to social enterprise practice.
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