News | Development Cooperation 03.03.2016

The IRENE|SEE research network has completed its study on the role of social enterprises – the results are presented in a book

irene see cover
cover sheet of the study "Entrepreneurial Solutions for Social Challenges: Lessons from the International Research Network for Social and Economic Empowerment"

“Entrepreneurial Solutions for Social Challenges: Lessons from the International Research Network for Social and Economic Empowerment” This title applies to the results of a five-year research project conducted by the International Research Network on Social Economic Empowerment. IRENE I SEE was started in 2011 by the Siemens Stiftung and the Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen. The focus of the subsequent study was social enterprises and their market-oriented solutions in Kenya, South Africa, Mexico and Colombia.

The researchers examined how entrepreneurial thinking and innovative solutions can contribute to sustainable social and economic empowerment in developing and emerging economies. The book encompasses a range of topics with different contexts which has resulted in a rich picture of initiatives and innovations taking place across the globe as efforts to reduce poverty and provide basic services through entrepreneurial approaches are intensified.

All articles of the book are based on dissertations of the PhD-students supported by the network from Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Kenya, and South Africa. Social enterprises are seen as promising organizations that aim at solving social issues in developing and emerging economies. While social entrepreneurs play an increasingly important role in driving social and economic empowerment in developing regions, practice-related academic work that supports their operations is hard to find.

Against this strategic background, Siemens Stiftung teamed up with Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance and established the International Research Network on Social Economic Empowerment. It was set up to enhance the understanding of social enterprise ecosystems in developing countries not merely by exchanging academic findings, but by creating an academic network that contributes research on organizational approaches that contribute to social and economic empowerment.

The research carried out by IRENE|SEE researchers has informed our operational project work and will hopefully do the same for many other academics and practitioners in the field.

With the publication the work of the International Research Network on Social Economic Empowerment (IRENE | SEE) comes to its end.