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What is a fair profit for social enterprise? Insights from microfinance

Author

Listed:
  • Marek Hudon
  • Marc Labie
  • Patrick Reichert

Abstract

Although microfinance organizations have typically been considered as inherently ethical, recent events have challenged the legitimacy of the sector. High interest rates and the exorbitant profitability of some market leaders have raised the question of what can be considered a fair, or ethical, level of profit for social enterprise. In this article, we construct a fair profit framework for social enterprise based on four dimensions: the level of profitability, the extent to which the organization adheres to its social mission, the pricing and the surplus distribution. We then apply this framework using an empirical sample of 496 microfinance institutions. Results indicate that satisfying all four dimensions is a difficult, although not impossible, task. Based on our framework, 13 MFIs emerge as true double-bottom-line organizations and tend to be relatively young, large MFIs from South Asia. Using our framework, we argue that excessive profits can be better understood relative to pricing, the outreach of the MFI and the organizational commitment to clients in the form of reduced interest rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Marek Hudon & Marc Labie & Patrick Reichert, 2017. "What is a fair profit for social enterprise? Insights from microfinance," Working Papers CEB 17-024, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/258793
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    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:11:p:4015-:d:180070 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Microfinance; Development Ethics; Exploitation; Institutional Logic;

    JEL classification:

    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility

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