The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, in collaboration with more than 60 Lex Mundi member firms and led by Morrison & Foerster LLP, launches unprecedented report including recommendations to assist policymakers in accelerating the formation and growth of social enterprises.

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation recently launched a new report on the formation and development of social enterprise globally, Legal reform as a catalyst for social enterprise: an international social enterprise law & policy report. The work, commissioned by Catalyst 2030, a global movement which brings together social entrepreneurs and social innovators from all sectors to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, is an unprecedented look at legal policies that affect social enterprise around the world.

The report reviews laws and policies across 83 jurisdictions, with insight from hundreds of regional counsel who participated in the project, to offer a comparative analysis of how different countries support and enable the development of social ventures. It includes observations from each inhabited continent and every major legal structure, including key recommendations to assist policymakers in catalyzing the formation and growth of social enterprises in their respective jurisdictions.

As part of its recommendations, the report identifies six pillars in a successful strategy to better support the growth of social enterprise:

  • clearly defining social enterprise
  • enabling fiduciaries to consider stakeholders other than business owners
  • providing tax benefits to social enterprises and their investors
  • implementing easier investment vehicles for social enterprises
  • guarding against corruption and “greenwashing”; and
  • maintaining flexibility to allow for scaled application of rules and “opt-in” features.

    The Pro Bono Foundation’s Managing Director, Isis Bous, said:
    “Across the world there has been growing concern about inequality, unsustainability and climate change for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic brought sharply into focus the need for businesses to contribute to meaningful change. Social enterprise has an absolutely critical role to play in this. “Working closely with Morrison & Foerster LLP and more than sixty Lex Mundi member firms around the world for Catalyst 2030, this report offers a definitive guide on how governments can help social enterprises achieve greater impact. Collaborating with the World Economic Forum through the Schwab Foundation, we hope the valuable insight in this report will provide clear direction to decision makers looking to support social enterprise and further their missions to drive social, economic, and environmental change.”

    Led and formalized at the World Economic Forum in May 2020, the Pro Bono Foundation joined the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, supporting many interested stakeholders in the Alliance with this project. Leading up to the February announcement of the Alliance’s new name, Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship, the report launches alongside the 2022 virtual Davos Agenda and accompanying programming such as Transforming through Trust: How Social Innovators are improving the lives of 722 Million.

    Francois Bonnici, Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and Head of Social Innovation at the World Economic Forum, said:
    “This comprehensive report will be an extremely useful guide in so many countries. There has been a great need for a current and updated review of such breadth and depth on legal reforms across the world and we are already finding it a useful reference and guide as we support the advancement of policies and ecosystem support for social enterprise. “

    Jeroo Billimoria, cofounder of Catalyst 2030, continued:
    “While our collective work is already catalysing the changes needed for SDGs’ success, time and again our members face numerous legal and policy hurdles that hinder their efforts. We are grateful to Morrison & Foerster and Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation for creating this seminal report as a vital step toward helping social entrepreneurs flourish. Through our annual Catalyst 2030 Awards, we celebrate governments who facilitate the work that we do and recognise the value that social entrepreneurs bring. We look forward to seeing how this report increases engagement among stakeholders around the world.”