Trickle Out Africa Project 2011-2013

Trickling Out? A study of eco/social enterprises in Southern and Eastern Africa and their role in sustainable development at the base of the pyramid

Funded by the ESRC First Grant Scheme

Start date: 1st February 2011

Length: 26 months


The primary objectives of this study are to: (a) identify examples of social and environmental enterprises in the Southern Africa Development and Eastern Africa Community; and (b) to explore and evaluate the role that these enterprises may play as a mechanism to 'trickle out' social, environmental and economic benefits to community groups economically considered to be at the 'base/bottom of the pyramid' (BoP).

Utilising secondary data analysis of published documents and discussions with key actors, a 'Directory of Eco-Social Enterprises, Agencies & Associations' is developed. Using a mixed methodology combining archival data analysis, surveys and interviews with the enterprises and agencies identified in this Directory the study considers wider issues of eco-social enterprise development, role of global supply chains and donor agencies and the potential 'trickle out' effects of such enterprises within their community.

This is followed by an in-depth qualitative analysis of 9-12 case examples from Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia that considers the interaction of these enterprises with their supply chains locally and globally, and evaluates the specific role that such enterprises play in poverty alleviation and sustainable development.


i. To identify, synthesise, and model the antecedent literature that considers the role that social and environmental enterprise may play in poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

ii. To compile a directory of social or environmental enterprises that produce, retail, manufacture or offer services within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Eastern Africa Community (EAC) regions, as well as the donor agencies, voluntary associations and assurance schemes that support these.

iii. To evaluate these enterprises through survey and case study research to:

  1. measure, map and analyse their characteristics;
  2. identify their triple bottom line impact in economic, environmental, and social terms;
  3. identify their role in green supply chain initiatives;
  4. consider whether a multiplier effect is occurring diffusing financial, social and human capital into the local community in a 'trickle out' manner; and
  5. explore the specific role these organisations play in poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

Please follow this link to learn more about where we are working

We are also working with a number of partner organisations, institutions and networks across Eastern and Southern Africa please click here to learn more.

For further details please contact the Principal Investigator - Dr Diane Holt (Senior Lecturer Essex Business School) on

Sheffield Management School

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