Social enterprises pursue both profit and purpose, harnessing the power of the marketplace to address social or environmental issues. To support social enterprises and the entrepreneurs who run them, a nascent social enterprise ecosystem has emerged that encompasses incubators and accelerators, impact investors, universities and philanthropic organizations as well as companies’ corporate responsibility and environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. But there’s a problem.

As well-meaning and accomplished as each ecosystem participant might be, we have collectively—and inadvertently—created a highly fragmented mashup of a disconnected system. Social entrepreneurs face the onerous and sometimes impossible task of navigating among the siloed players, each with their own logical strategy, theory of change, investment thesis, sector or geographic focus and instruments.

What’s needed is a coherent, coordinated ecosystem that works together to enable entrepreneurs to thrive and scale. Here are five highly interrelated ways that an entrepreneur-centric ecosystem might better support social entrepreneurs.

  1. Address the funding gaps.
  2. Actively include women, local leaders and others who are regularly excluded from the current ecosystem.
  3. Take a patient, longer-term approach to supporting social enterprises.
  4. Reevaluate the metrics used to determine social enterprise success.
  5. Adopt a tailored approach to social entrepreneurs.

Read the full article about social entrepreneurs by Brigit Helms at Forbes.