Developing enabling social enterprise ecosystem in Azerbaijan

Title Designing, planning, and managing Social Enterprise Platform to support development of social entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan

Location Baku, Azerbaijan

Duration 2022-2023

Framework Developing innovation-driven and sustainable civil society in Azerbaijan

Partners ARPA Consulting

Client UNDP Azerbaijan

Funding European Commission

Although the Azerbaijani social enterprise ecosystem is at a preliminary stage, it has several promising characteristics and already existing passionate social entrepreneurs and ecosystem supporters. As a matter of fact, there are already several existing social enterprises with a growing awareness of the potential of social enterprise as a means to create impact as a tool to address social and environmental challenges in an entrepreneurial and economically sustainable manner.

Nonetheless, the existing legislation and policy framework are still not enough supportive of the development of the Social Entrepreneurship sector. Furthermore, only limited financial and technical support is currently available for aspiring social entrepreneurs in the country. The lack of local networks and the still limited research on the topic further restrict the visibility and general understanding of social entrepreneurship initiatives, while difficult access to funding opportunities makes it difficult for social enterprises to scale up.

General Objective

The project “Developing innovation-driven and sustainable civil society in Azerbaijan” is designed as a multi-dimensional response to accelerate the development and growth of the civil society sector through promoting social entrepreneurship culture and innovative solutions.

Our contribution

The Social Economy Unit has been entrusted by UNDP with designing and implementing a set of activities aimed at building the needed capacities to properly support the spread and consolidation of the social enterprise model in Azerbaijan. This goal is pursued through the participatory engagement of micro and meso-level actors who can play a crucial role in the development of an enabling social enterprise ecosystem.

In particular, ARCO carried out a Training of Trainers on Social Entrepreneurship aimed at enhancing selected local master trainers’ skills and preparing them for the delivery of of training activities involving40 social impact-oriented SMEs and CSOs who want to explore SE models.
These organisations will take part in an “Ideation Bootcamp” to start drafting innovative solutions to tackle social and environmental problems. and will then have the chance to submit their ideas to a project committee to be involved in an a incubation, acceleration and mentorship programme.

As a last step, the supported organisations will have the opportunity to present their ideas to potential investors, funders and partners during a Demo Day especially dedicated to Azerbaijani social enterprises.

In addition, the Social Economy Unit will train local organisations with a potential role in assisting social entrepreneurs to access finance, new markets, partners and networks.

ARCO team is also managing the development of a a Digital Knowledge Platform aimed at inspiring social entrepreneurs, making them more easily access useful resources and providing them with the chance of connecting with other ecosystem stakeholders.

As a last activity, the Social Economy unit will outline an evaluation framework to assess the social and environmental impact of the newly created social enterprises.

Read more on our Social Economy Unit