Social enterprises are businesses with a social mission, reinvesting profits to achieve their mission. They combine the societal impact of nonprofits with the efficiency of for-profits. Recognized by the United Nations, they use market strategies primarily for social purposes, playing a crucial role in the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) worldwide. The SSE's political importance has surged due to its significant contributions to decent work and an improved standard of living.

High youth unemployment and a significant number of disengaged young individuals are pressing issues in the MENA region. Gender disparity, particularly the underrepresentation of women in the workforce, compounds these challenges. Social enterprises, aligned with the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), offer a dual solution—financial sustainability and impactful change. This policy paper outlines a framework for promoting social enterprises in Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia, based on survey data from 33 MSMEs in green, blue, and creative industries. It identifies key challenges and provides targeted policy recommendations for fostering their growth and societal impact.

By Najat El Mekkaoui, Université Paris-Dauphine-PSL, LEDa IRD UMR225 DIAL and Senior Research Felllow, EMEA Reviewed by Prof. Rym Ayadi, President and Founder, EMEA and Professor at the Bayes Business School, City University of London

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