Becoming a local social enterprise

One of the biggest challenges for non-profit organisations is financial sustainability. This is especially challenging for local non-profits in developing countries without access to the corporate and private donors that can provide a supporter base for foreign NGOs. How do we build sustainable non-profit enterprises in developing countries that can achieve real change? 

The social enterprise business model is often promoted as a solution but finding the right model for the particular type of enterprise is an area that needs to be explored. This is the area of my current Masters Research project which will focus on social enterprise in the non-profit sector in South Asia, specifically Indian, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. My goal is to find a model that will work for PIMD stakeholders in Sri Lanka so that they can take over and run the enterprise locally supporting teacher professional development and teaching of English and computer literacy in village primary schools. PIMD itself, even though we originate from Australia, struggles with the issue of financial sustainability. As a small, volunteer based organisation we are faced with a choice between scaling up and widening our coverage even beyond Sri Lanka to attract donor funding, or becoming more deeply embedded at a local level. Our preference is for the latter and to transfer and empower local stakeholders. Your thoughts and contributions are welcome to this discussion.

Tony Kandaiya, October 2013