International Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship 2017

ISSE 2017 – Impact Assessment for Social Enterprises: Contextualisation or Generalisation

The theme for ISSE 2017 – Impact Assessment for Social Enterprises: Contextualisation or Generalisation – focused the event on developing a better understanding of frameworks to facilitate social investment flows, thereby ensuring resource allocation to where social impact is expected to be the highest.

Before scaling up, social enterprises need to provide evidence that their activities are making a social impact. There is a wide array of social impact assessment options – from simple logical frameworks to complex reporting tools and metrics, and from participatory evaluations to randomised control trials. How are they different and is there a right approach? Impact assessment is costly and some may consider it an extra cost and bureaucracy that come at the expense of the effectiveness of the enterprise. Others may view it as a legitimate expense that aids enterprises in strategic decision-making.

ISSE 2017 set out to address these issues regarding social impact assessment. The keynote speaker was Professor Fergus Lyon from the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University, who discussed the opportunities and dilemma of impact assessment for social enterprises.

A plenary session featuring five industry experts discussed impact assessment usage in their organisations and businesses. The general sentiment was that forming networks, sharing knowledge and engaging stakeholders could ultimately show impact assessment to improve outcomes for beneficiaries.

Academic researchers from various institutions also presented their papers. They included:

  1. A Landscape of Social Impact Assessment Practices among Impact Investors in Asia – Frank Hubers, ACSEP, NUS Business School, Singapore
  2. Measuring the Social Value Added by Social Enterprises – A Case Study Applying the SIMPLE Methodology – Jim McLoughlin, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
  3. Reporting in Social Entrepreneurship – Barbara Scheck, Ann-Kristin Achleitner, Alexander Bassen, and Wolfgang Spiess-Knafl, Munich Business School, Germany
  4. Distinguishing Game Changers from Boastful Charlatans: Which Social Enterprises Measure their Impact? – Karen Maas, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The key takeaway from ISSE 2017 is the need for a greater understanding of how organisations can demonstrate their impact and a common language on impact assessment. Funders tend to have more say in driving this common language and social enterprises can maximise their social impact by allocating the right resources to the right place.


Fergus Lyon
Economic Development Research, Middlesex University London,
Deputy Director of the ESRC Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), UK.


Alfie Ohtman
Chief Executive Officer, raiSE
Tina Hung
Deputy CEO, NCSS
Ramandeep Sidhu
Assistant Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships, NVPC
Martina Mettgenberg Lemiere
Head of Insights and Capacity Building, AVPN
Rashika Ranchan
Head of Funding & Partnership (Social), Tote Board