14 March 2019

Report notes improvement of system-wide coordination required to unleash full potential

Social enterprises say that low public awareness of the sector has made it challenging for them to garner support and recruit staff or volunteers. 

This was a key finding from The State of Social Enterprise in Malaysia report, the tenth in a series of surveys undertaken by the British Council around the world. The report, launched on 12 March 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, also indicated that most social enterprises (62 per cent) say they lack knowledge of existing and workable social business models, making this their top financial challenge.

‘At a time when Malaysia is undergoing significant socio-political change, we hope this research will contribute to a more informed conversation about social enterprise in Malaysia,’ said Sarah Deverall, Director Malaysia, British Council. 

The State of Social Enterprise in Malaysia was published by the British Council in partnership with United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), Ministry of Entrepreneur Development Malaysia, and Yayasan Hasanah.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP noted: ‘Social enterprises in Malaysia present a significant opportunity to generate employment, support vulnerable and marginalised communities and realise the Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations ESCAP is pleased to partner in the publication of this report, to provide an evidence base and support policy development to further strengthen the social enterprise sector.’ 

The report noted that over 55 per cent of social enterprise leaders in Malaysia are under the age of 40, and a majority (54 per cent) of social enterprises are led by women. Social enterprise leaders are also more educated than the general workforce, with 83 per cent having graduated with a degree-level qualification.

The report states that unleashing the full potential of social enterprises requires an improvement of system-wide coordination between ecosystem enablers to address the geographical divide in terms of support and awareness building. 

Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan bin Md Yusof, Minister of Entrepreneur Development said: ‘This survey report is timely to complement the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development Malaysia’s effort to formulate a holistic social entrepreneurship development policy that is inclusive and competitive, including driving the development of the B40s and M40s in Malaysia.’ 

The launch provided insight into social enterprise in Malaysia, including the changes undergone by the sector since the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC)’s State of Social Enterprise in Malaysia 2014-15.  Attended by government departments and related agencies, donors, funders and investors, public and private universities, social entrepreneurs, third sector organisations, and the private sector, the launch saw assessment of several key initiatives supporting the sector. Key evidence-based recommendations relevant to various stakeholders and access to advocacy tools for local sector enablers were also presented.