Asian Development Bank Press Release

BANGKOK, THAILAND (3 March 2011) – Social entrepreneurs are generating business ideas to address social and environmental challenges in Thailand and around Asia. But they require greater financial support from impact investors to expand their ventures.

More than 100 social entrepreneurs and their supporters are gathering in Bangkok today and tomorrow to discuss the huge potential of social enterprises in improving lives through the power of the free market. They are convening as part of the combined Global Social Venture Competition, Social Entrepreneurship Symposium, and Impact Forum for Social Change.

Social entrepreneurs are persons who develop fresh business solutions to major social challenges. They tend to be ambitious and committed to developing and implementing ideas for wide-scale societal change. Social entrepreneurs work to solve problems by developing sustainable and market-based solutions to address perceived gaps in what government and charity organizations are doing.

“The Competition and Symposium provide the opportunity to engage social entrepreneurs who are changing the world with their energy and creativity,” said Edward Rubesch, Director of the IMBA Program at the Thammasat Business School. “These events showcase how social entrepreneurs are developing innovative solutions to today’s most pressing problems.”

One sponsor of the two-day program is Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX Asia), which is building the first social stock exchange in Asia. “A regional stock exchange serving social enterprises from Thailand and other developing Asian countries will link social enterprises in need of funding with impact investors who understand their business models and value their social mission,” said Durreen Shahnaz, the organization’s founder and chairperson.

Support for the combined program has also been provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). “Through its operations, ADB supports a vibrant private sector,” said Bart W. Édes, Director of ADB’s Poverty, Gender, and Social Development Division. “Social enterprises promote inclusive growth through their clever utilization of socially oriented business models. They are building from the grassroots up, and making their positive impact felt in communities across Thailand and beyond.”

Young social entrepreneurs, government representatives, and potential investors are gathering to explore how to boost the capacity of social enterprises in Southeast Asia. The overlapping events – which are open to the public – will highlight promising new initiatives, offer participants with a deeper understanding of impact investment, and explore the market readiness of social enterprises in Thailand.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.