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Designing and implementing Turkey's first social and green entrepreneurship survey (1/6)

Part I: Why do we need a social and green entreprneuership survey ?

Background to survey

In 2012/13 as a Mercator-IPC fellow at the Istanbul Policy Center at Sabanci University I carried out a research project on social entrepreneurship, social investing and the role of government with a specific focus on the climate change sector. The work was also supported by the Impact Investing Policy Collaborative managed by Pacific Community Ventures and the Institute for Responsible Investing at Harvard University sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.

In part 1 of this blog series I described the benefits of such a survey (see Section 2). In part 2 and part 3 I will talk about my approach to identify potential respondents and the challenges of collecting a sufficient number of responses. In part 4 I reflect on the challenge of how to target the right kind of organizations for this survey and on how to improve the response rate. In part 5, I analyse the response rate and pointed to some of the limitations of this survey. Our survey results are summarised in part 6 of our blog series)

Part 1-4 were posted on 8 November 2012 and part 5 and 6 on 10th of April 2013.

Why do we need a social enterprise survey in Turkey?

As part of my research I wanted to explore the situation of social and green enterprises in Turkey using a survey. So why did I believe that a survey was important?

Social entrepreneurs are pioneers. They face many challenges with regard to the legal and policy framework, access to finance, growing their idea sustainably and achieving the desired impact. This is particularly true in Turkey where sector infrastructure is still weak and the concept of social entrepreneurship or impact investing is not well known to the broader public. The survey will help me to understand the size, geographic diversity, values and strategies of social enterprises in Turkey. It will also reveal the specific challenges that social entrepreneurs face when growing their innovative ideas into sustainable solutions for social and environmental impact. With my research project I also want to understand the perception of (potential) financiers and intermediaries and identify policy options for the government to grow this emerging field. Once completed, the survey results will therefore help me to compare the entrepreneurs’ needs with the perception of (potential) financiers and intermediaries and feed into my analysis of policy options for the government.

"So quite useful for research and academia", some will say, "but what do social enterprises get out of this? Are they not just wasting their time in filling yet another form – only to never hear back again?" I disagree. I expect the survey to have very practical benefits for social enterprises, intermediaries, and policy makers supporting the growth of this sector. The survey will:

  • Help intermediaries and policy makers to segment the heterogeneous field to take more targeted and substantiated decisions in relation to incentive and financing schemes, legal reforms and other policy interventions,
  • Increase access to a greater range of funders and financing options,
  • Raise awareness and increase exposure to a larger audience amongst consumers, financial institutions, business, media, government or academia both in Turkey and internationally,
  • Contribute to a more powerful sector-wide voice,
  • Build a stronger sense of community amongst social entrepreneurs (‘others face same problems!’), and
  • Attract human resource talent to this space.