Capable social enterprises achieving development impact

The SFI Program aimed to create sustainable poverty reduction in the Asia Pacific region by scaling social enterprises' development impact. Frontier Innovators supported 14 social enterprises by providing them with AUD100,000 grants and custom technical assistance. Frontier Incubators supported 31 incubators and accelerators that, in turn, assisted 288 social enterprises.


Innovative approaches

Innovative approaches to procurement and implementation of the program achieved measurable results from activities and ultimately contributed to development impact.

  • Co-Design
  • Flexible Funding

Outcomes Achieved

The 14 social enterprises who received support through Frontier Innovators reported increased capabilities as measured through a customised application of the World Bank Group’s Capacity Development Results Framework.

  • 93%
    93% reported increased their knowledge/skills
  • 93%
    applied knowledge/skills
  • 43%
    reported increased performance as a result of the knowledge/skills
  • 100%
    reported increased ability to network with others in the entrepreneurship ecosystem

Development Impact Data

  • $21million
    AUD was raised by 14 social enterprises following SFI technical assistance
  • 288
    Social enterprises supported by SFI-supported incubators/accelerators
  • 170,000
    Direct beneficiaries reached by SFI-supported social enterprises

Impact Stories

Key Takeaways

Recommendations are based on lessons learnt from Frontier Innovators. For more information on how the capability assistance program was designed and implemented, see ‘How We Did It’ from the Frontier Innovators Interim Results and Learning report.

  • Program design should be informed by research to understand the needs within the ecosystem but maintain flexibility to adapt activities over the course of implementation based on:

    • Evolving priorities of and conditions experienced by the social enterprise (e.g., stage of innovation, preferred modality of assistance, timing, etc.)
    • Results of needs assessments to ensure that the provision of capability assistance is appropriate for social enterprises’ stage and context.
  • Capability assistance program should include two key characteristics:

    • Opportunity for recipients to follow up with service providers 3-6 months after they receive technical assistance
    • Built in results gathering from recipients at least 6-12 months after the program has concluded, as it can take time for enterprises to apply what they learned and achieve business objectives and development impact
  • Peer learning should be intentionally planned and resourced in capability assistance programs with a cohort element.

    When well structured, both virtual and in-person peer learning opportunities add value. Activities such as study tours, learning exchanges, virtual seminars and discussions, should be incorporated up front to ensure proper resourcing and measurement.