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Social Enterprises in Costa Rica

Randall Trejos and Urs Jäger - INCAE Business School

Abstract: This chapter describes the emergence of social enterprises in Costa Rica, one of the most stable democracies in Central America. The text presents Costa Rica’s social institutions, like its healthcare and education system, which support the country’s social stability. Nevertheless, these public institutions are marred by inefficiency and corruption. Analyzing SE from the perspective of the civil society, the text argues that nonprofits can be tracked back to the 1950s when church activities in particular supported civil society organizations. As nonprofits face rising pressure for accountability and less access to government grants, they are shifting towards SE structures. For-profit companies contributed to the social progress of the country through foundations. During the time, the companies professionalized and requested more reporting from their social initiatives. This is why some of them have moved towards investing in SE, expecting them to be more accountable. The text ends by highlighting the need for a conceptual clarity of SE.