The SASIE Network - The South African PhD Partnering Network for Inclusive Growth through Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship and social innovation are increasingly promoted by policy makers, non-governmental organisations, civil groups, businesses and public sector bodies as a way to address complex and intractable poverty and sustainable development issues as part of a quest for inclusive growth, especially for the marginalized and disenfranchised. Across the world non-profits and for-profit socially orientated small businesses are emerging to tackle a wealth of social, environmental and economic issues across townships, in poor rural areas and as part of a sustainable and equitable transformation especially in the developing world. In places like South African multinationals are also working with social enterprises as part of their corporate social responsibility and economic empowerment initiatives.

There has been a corresponding rise in interest in academia in South Africa and across the world. Scholars in these fields, especially those at the start of their career undertaking PhDs or just starting in academia, can often be isolated in the global research environment. There is a need to offer opportunities to reach out to others in similar research areas across South Africa and the rest of the world. Sharing their own insights and learning from others is critical to developing excellent, rigorous and useful research that has the potential to improve the quality and impact of the research being undertaken on social entrepreneurship and innovation in South Africa. Developing research capacity across South Africa through exposure to cutting edge methodological techniques offers the opportunity to strengthen the collection and analysis of data to produce empirically rigorous work. Publishing in high quality outlets with an international reach is also important in showcasing the excellent research occurring in these areas in South Africa to the global research and practitioner communities.

Through this NRF-ESRC funded SASIE programme and network of global scholars we will exchange knowledge, network and collaborate. The SASIE themes will focus on the broad role of enterprise-based development models and in particular all aspects associated with social innovation, social entrepreneurship and enterprise based inclusive growth initiatives. It is delivered through a partnership between the two lead institutions of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa (Wits) and the University of Essex in the UK with its Doctoral Training Centre in Social Sciences, and a consortium of South African universities including University of Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

The activities of the network will involve

  • Free workshops, talks, colloquiums and training activities in South Africa 
  • Ten South African PhD scholars from related areas will be sponsored to spend time at the University of Essex undertaking research training and development
  • Ten UK students will spend time at one of the South African partner universities;
  • Visits by supervisors from South Africa; and 
  • Presentations of SASIE research at UK conferences and Essex University

We also are building a global, searchable directory of scholars interested in the themes of the SASIE network -please join us!