In January 2016, British Council organized an unprecedented Social Enterprise Policymakers and Policy Influencers Master Class training for a total of 79 participants, 42 in Kenya and 37 in Ethiopia. The training is one of several core activities being implemented under the EU-funded Support for Social Enterprises in Eastern Africa project to increase the capacity of government officials and policy influencers.
In his opening remarks at the training in Addis Ababa, Dr. Mebrahtu Meles, State Minister of Industry, acknowledged the relevance and timeliness of the training, “In mid-November 2016, the British Council organised a study visit to the UK for a few officials to give us exposure to a robust social enterprise ecosystem to provide learning for potential approaches, linkages and interventions in our home countries. One of the follow up activities we suggested back then was a multi-sectorial capacity building training on social enterprise to be delivered to a wider range of government officials to enable policymakers to better understand the nature and potential of social enterprise, and the way in which public policy can help support its development in a country context”.
The training, delivered by high level policy experts from the British Council and Social Enterprise UK, is sought to enable policymakers to better understand the nature and potential of social enterprise and the way in which public policy can help support its development in a country context. To that end, the training helped to provide the participants with essential and relevant information using a mix of appropriate methods and materials while also creating interactive opportunities for them to develop their own thinking and frameworks of understanding social enterprise concepts and policy issues in particular local contexts.
The key learning outcomes as highlighted by the trainees were: understanding the social enterprise concept, social enterprise in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, inequality and global environmental challenges; and social enterprise policy examples and lessons from the UK and around the world. A participant stated “I was very impressed with the use of social enterprise and the effect of social enterprise in supporting vulnerable groups and the role of social enterprise in the country’s economy”. Another emphasised the learning output saying, there is a lot to take lesson from “the analysis of barriers to social enterprise and experience of other countries social enterprise policy and regulation.”
The participants left with initial level shared commitments and responsibilities to ensure engagement in and support to the development of the domestic sector ecosystems in both countries. They came up with action plans to implement some key social enterprise activities at individual and organizational levels. These joint initiatives and continued works with the stakeholder groups signify greater sharing of commitment and responsibility in building adequate policy support for the development of enabling social enterprise ecosystems in Ethiopia and Kenya.