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Korean Social Enterprise

The evolution of social enterprise in Korea is unique, particularly in its approach to the labor market and provision of social service issues. Catapulted by the Asian economic crisis in 1997, social enterprise is viewed as critical to society and government for embedding social change. This position was concreted when the Korean Government introduced the 2007 Social Enterprise Promotion Act, which defines a social enterprise as “An organization that is engaged in business activities, including the production and selling of goods and services, while pursuing a social purpose to enhance the quality of life of the local community through the provision of social services and job creation for the disadvantaged” (Ministry of Employment and Labor, 2007).

Companies must submit an application to the Ministry of Labor, providing evidence of how their activities will benefit disadvantaged. Once the Ministry will approve the company as an official social enterprise, tax benefits and business consulting services are provided. This policy highlighted a range of methods to tackle unemployment and socio-economic polarization through social employment programs for the disadvantaged and outlines 4 different types of social enterprise – Work Integration, where at least 50% of employees should be from the disadvantaged community; Social Service Provision, where at least 50% of the recipients must be from a disadvantaged background; a mixed model of both these types and others with an environmental, cultural or educational social purpose.

Social Enterprise World Forum 2014 will showcase a wide range of Korean social enterprises, all with different social purposes, who have made the biggest positive impact in their community and what they have achieved. We hope to see you there and share our experiences with you.