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Do Social Enterprises Walk the Talk? Assessing Microfinance Performances with Mission Statements

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  • Roy Mersland
  • Samuel Anokye Nyarko
  • Ariane Szafarz

Abstract

We study mission drift in social enterprises by examining whether these organizations stick to the actual mission enshrined in their mission statements. We use data from microfinance organizations (MFOs), a homogeneous group of social enterprises which have been scrutinized—and sometimes criticized—for mission drift. We focus on three publicly recognized and non-mutually-exclusive microfinance social missions identified by previous studies: poverty alleviation, women's empowerment, and rural financial inclusion. Based on hand-collected data from 199 MFOs worldwide, our results suggest strong coherence between social missions and actual practices. Hence, we argue that, with respect to MFOs’ own stated social missions, mission drift is no serious concern. The trustworthiness of social mission statements makes them suitable evaluation tools for social enterprises.

Suggested Citation

  • Roy Mersland & Samuel Anokye Nyarko & Ariane Szafarz, 2019. "Do Social Enterprises Walk the Talk? Assessing Microfinance Performances with Mission Statements," Working Papers CEB 19-008, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/285367
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    Keywords

    Mission statement; Mission drift; Microfinance; Social enterprise; Content analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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