The Inter-American Development Bank must be recognized for commissioning the original version of this paper entitled: “Social Enterprise: A Typology of the Field Contextualized in Latin America,” (September 2003) to commemorate the 25 years of innovation through their Small Projects Fund and Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP). Without the support provided by the Inter-American Development Bank this work simply would not have been possible.

Specific thanks are owed to Alvaro Rameriz, Division Deputy Chief and Jacqueline Bass, Senior Advisor for Micro and Small Enterprise, the Inter-American Development Bank, who provided the foresight and leadership to instigate this typology, labored over the cases, and tirelessly read and commented on the paper in its various incarnations.

I would like to thank and acknowledge the contributions of the following individuals who agreed to review and provide feedback on this paper. Each one is a respected leader and major contributor to the social enterprise and international economic development fields; their thoughts, ideas, words, and previous work laid the foundation for this piece.

  • Shari Berenbach, Executive Director, Calvert Foundation
  • Lee Davis, Co-Founder and CEO, NESsT
  • Nicole Etchart, Co-Founder and CEO, NESsT
  • Jed Emerson, Senior Fellow William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Lecturer Graduate School of Business Stanford University
  • Cynthia Gair, Portfolio Director, The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund
  • Didier Thys, Executive Director, Microfinance Information Exchange

Additional thanks are owed Lee Davis and Nicole Etchart for sharing cases from the NESsT portfolio, and to Jed Emerson, who kindly agreed to write the foreword. Special recognition goes to Vincent Dawans from Virtue Ventures for his contributions to sections on impact measurements and graphical representations. Finally, much gratitude is due to Laura Brown, faithful editor, who willingly took this paper in its original incarnation on her vacation.

About the Inter-American Development Bank’s Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP)


The Inter-American Development Bank began supporting income generating nonprofit organizations and cooperatives in 1978 through its Small Projects Fund long before there was a field dubbed social enterprises. In 1998, the Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP), which replaced the Small Projects Fund, was created to promote social equity and the economic development of poor and marginal groups.