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The purpose of this report is to highlight the variety of social enterprises and inclusive businesses operating across Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, and to explore
the barriers they face in accessing finance. Placing positive social impact at the forefront of their work sets these businesses aside from mainstream, or ‘profit-first’ businesses, and can give rise to additional challenges, including financial, that need to be addressed. Yet, there is no one common form of social enterprise or inclusive business around which to formulate a response. A supportive ecosystem must take account of how the financing challenges and needs of socially-oriented businesses differ both in relation to their profit-first counterparts and within their own broad category.

After outlining five key dimensions of business variety, the report distinguishes between those barriers that are shared with profit-first businesses, especially SMEs; those that are faced more frequently or severely by social enterprises and inclusive businesses due to their profile (e.g. leadership characteristics); and those barriers that are specific to these sorts of businesses due to their legal forms and governance, business models, legal forms and target communities.

This report includes recommendations for actions that can support social enterprises and inclusive businesses overcome these barriers and demonstrates how the ICR Facility can support such actions. While this report explores the issue from the perspective of social enterprises and inclusive businesses, a subsequent report will revisit the topic from the perspective of social finance providers.