Poll Shows Canada is the 2nd Best Place to Be a Social Entrepreneur: Taking A Deeper Look

Poll Shows Canada is the 2nd Best Place to Be a Social Entrepreneur: Taking A Deeper Look

Recently, a major poll pegged the best place to be a Social Entrepreneur. The poll, carried out in partnership with Thomson Reuters Foundation,  Deutsche Bank, the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN) and UnLtd, was conducted online between June 9 and July 15, polling 20 experts in 45 countries.

While one can question the veracity of a survey that speaks to 20 experts, the goal of the survey was to fuel important conversations about nurturing social entrepreneurship. And that’s something it has done to an amazing degree:


In that spirit, here is our deeper look at some of the numbers.

The Top 5

The Top 5


The overall Number 1 was the U.S., with an overall score of 65.9, followed by Canada and the U.K, with scores of 65.3 and 60.6 respectively. Note how narrow the gap is between the U.S. and Canada (0.6), compared to the gap between the Canada and the U.K. (4.7).  The gap between the U.K. and fourth place Singapore is also small (0.7).

The U.K.’s third place, the larger gap between it and 2nd and 1st place, and the relatively small distance between itself and fourth place is somewhat surprising given its reputation as a leader in this space. Indeed, in his reflections on the results, UnLtd’s Mark Norbury states:

“The UK has been a pioneer in this area, with strong government support for the movement from the very beginning.”

As will be seen below, given its pioneer status, some of the U.K.’s low rankings are the biggest surprise of the poll results.

Mr. Norbury’s reflections also note three key findings:


“Only 10 countries surveyed in the poll agree that it is easy for social entrepreneurs to access grant funding, and only four agreed the same applies to investment – a real concern.”

Regarding grants, Canada scored 8th, over 25 points behind #1 Hong Kong. Still, it was slightly ahead of the U.K. and the U.S. On investment, Canada was number #1, but at 58.3 it was the lowest #1 of any of the questions.

Access to Markets:   

“The poll findings also expose the difficulty social entrepreneurs have in accessing different markets. In very few countries do social entrepreneurs find it easy to sell their products and services to government, and selling to business is reportedly not much easier.”

In terms of ease of sales, Canada’s experts suggested it was easiest to sell to the public (score of 68.8), then business (58.3), and then government (43.8).  That trend was also reflected in the U.S. and the U.K. Canada placed ahead of the U.K. and the U.S. for ease of sales to government, but behind the U.S. for ease of sales to business and the public.

Lack of Understanding among the General Public about Social Entrepreneurship:

“From our perspective, the most striking finding from the poll is the lack of understanding among the general public about social entrepreneurship. We believe that tackling this problem is the next big challenge for countries like the US and UK who have strong foundations upon which to build. We want to see social entrepreneurship go mainstream.”

Here Canada ranked 6th, at 47.9, well behind #1 Israel (64.6), ahead of the U.S. (43.2), and behind the U.K. (50).


A Breakdown of Canada’s Showing Compared to #1 and the U.S. and U.K.: 



Canada (score and Ranking)    

#1 (Country & Score)


U.S. Score


U.K. Score


Comment on Range

Conditions are favourable for social entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses 6th, 72.9 U.S. 88.6 88.6 77.1 Low score for Canada, a huge gap with #1 and a fair sized gap with the U.K.
Government policy supports social entrepreneurs 5th, 70.8 South Korea 85.4 70.5 68.8 Low score for Canada and a huge gap with #1, but better than U.S. and U.K.

U.K.’s rank, given its rep, is surprising.

It is easy for social entrepreneurs to get grant funding 8th, 52.1 Hong Kong 77.3 43.2 47.9 Huge gap with number 1, but the lower ranking of the U.S. and U.K. is even more surprising.
It is easy for social entrepreneurs to investment (debt &/or equity) 1st , 58.3 Canada! 54.5 47.9 Moderate gap between U.S. and Canada. It would be interesting to see how a jurisdiction’s make up of its surveyed experts (non-profit compared to for-profit) may correlate to this number.
Social entrepreneurs can access the non-financial support they need (e.g. financial, legal and technical advice; access to markets and networks; coaching mentoring and training) 9th, 70.8 Singapore, 81.3 70.5 77.1 Significant gap between number 1 and the U.K.
It is easy for social entrepreneurs to sell to government 7th, 43.8 South Korea, 65.9 36.1 27.5 Huge gap with number 1, but compares very favourably to U.S. and U.K. The U.K.’s ranking is 28th
It is easy for social entrepreneurs to sell to business Three-way tie for 4th, 58.3 U.S., 67.5 67.5 52.3 Fair gap with #1, but again the ranking of the U.K. at 15 is the real surprise
It is easy for social entrepreneurs to sell to the public Four-way tie for 6th, 68.8 U.S., 75 75 67.5 Similar to “selling to business”
It is easy for social entrepreneurs to attract staff with the required skills 4th, 72.9 U.S., 81.8 81.8 58.3 9 point range that Canada has had have with #1 for the last three questions. The big surprise again is the U.K.’s low score.
The general public understands what social entrepreneurs do 6th, 47.9 Israel, 64.6 43.2 50 One of the widest margins with #1, but fairly close to U.K. and slightly ahead of the U.S.
Social entrepreneurs can make a living from their work in my country 1st, 70.8 Canada 63.6 70.5 Margins are slim. The big surprise is the ranking of the U.S. at 13.
Social entrepreneurship is gaining momentum 1st, 95.8 Canada 90.9 77.1 Smaller margin. The big surprise is the U.K.’s ranking 27th

You can access the poll and lots of supporting material here.


Click here to go directly to Canada's results

Click here to go directly to Canada’s results