Social Enterprises as a Revitalisation Strategy for Rural Communities

(This chapter is an excerpt from Rural Areas in Transition)


There is growing academic and practitioner interest in social enterprises (SEs), due to their – mostly assumed – positive social impacts on communities. However, there is less research available on the place-based nature of SEs, such as within the rural context, especially regarding factors that influence their capacity and success in social impact creation. This chapter focuses on the rural context because of the unique challenges that influence service/product provision to rural communities. These issues contribute to rural areas disproportionately facing challenges such as poverty, inequality, and more recently the COVID Pandemic and thus lagging metro ones on many indicators.

Discussions in this chapter offer important insights on this issue through a review of 26 Rural Social Enterprise cases from published empirical studies. The analysis identifies factors that influence social impact creation ability in Rural Social Enterprises, categorises them under a motivation, capability, and opportunity framework as levers for social change, and elaborates how they influence social impact creation ability in the enterprises. These results are important to rural development practitioners, supporters, policymakers, and researchers interested in using Rural Social Enterprises to revitalise rural communities in the post COVID Pandemic era.


Read the full chapter here.