Despite the support for and suggested importance of youth social entrepreneurship for Malaysia’s future toward social justice and a sustainable economy and society, social entrepreneurship rates are surprisingly low in Malaysia. At the same time, deploying discourses of civil society and social entrepreneurship in development initiatives shifts institutional responsibilities onto individuals and communities to reinforce existing power dynamics and hinder wellbeing. In this context, this project aims to examine the lived experiences of young people in relation to the factors that influence their engagement in social entrepreneurship and the activities that youth-led social enterprises employ to contribute to civil society. This will be achieved with a unique approach combining co-design with young social entrepreneurs and case studies to bridge arts and humanities with social sciences and enhance the voices of young people.
By investigating the lived experiences of young social entrepreneurs and how social enterprises contribute (positively and/or negatively) to civil society, we create a conceptual link between civil society and social entrepreneurship research. The project contributes to appreciation of the diversity of organising forms in civil society by shedding light on a new type of organisational actor (i.e. social enterprises). The project also offers a contextualised approach to examining the activities through which social enterprises may catalyse social change.
By focusing on youth-led social enterprises in Malaysia, this project aligns with the overarching aims of “Changing the Story”, while also contributing insights based on a new context, new method, and a new conceptual lens. Ultimately, the project will explicate not only how civil society can be shaped with and for young people, but also by young people as active contributors.
The potential impact of the project is aiding a supportive ecosystem in which young social entrepreneurs and their social enterprises successfully address social and economic challenges in sustainable ways for individuals and communities.