Katarzyna Cieslik (KTI)
The development sector is constantly looking for new models to address the many challenges of the Global South in a sustainable way. The aim of this study is to investigate how the agrarian communities in rural Burundi accommodate the model of a social enterprise: a market-based community organization with a social mission. We conduct an explorative study of nine village groups that have been equipped with energy generators in order to become self-sustainable economic structures – social micro-enterprises. Using a mixed-method approach, we examine the perceptions, behaviors and actions of the participating community members. Drawing on the theory of moral economy, we argue that subsistence communities in Burundi are governed by certain reciprocal and hierarchical relationships that may both enable social enterprise initiatives, and hinder them in important ways. Our results suggest that the social enterprise model may increase the sustainability prospects of the interventions but question its capacity to achieve transformational change.