Circular Strategies of Social Enterprises for Sustainable Development in Impoverished Contexts: East Africa

Flavia Cau*, Giacomo Ciambotti

*Corresponding author

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


African economies are home to grand societal and environmental challenges, and social enterprises in these contexts typically play a key role to address UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. In fact, social enterprises in African countries are actively involved in the achievement of SDGs by combining in the same organizations social, environmental, and economic missions and processes. Recently, scholars acknowledged the relevance of Circular Economy (CE) practices for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, this chapter focuses on East African countries (meaning Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda). In these countries, the highest levels of ruralto- urban shift of any continent in the world, together with context-related challenges such as weak institutions, lack of financial support, low access to technology, and a lack of education and technical skills, give rise to severe social and environmental problems. Gathering the extant but fragmented knowledge on circular economy in East African social enterprises, this chapter aims at illustrating the tensions and barriers that jeopardize social enterprises’ ability to implement circular strategies. Further, the chapter reveals the enabling factors of social enterprises adopting circular strategies recognizing a leading role of local community, business incubators, and informal sector. Finally, this chapter examines the outcomes of circular strategies, in the form of an active contribution toward sustainable development as well as negative tensions which are generated between social enterprises and stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSDGs in Africa and the Middle East Region. Implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals – Regional Perspectives
EditorsW., Abubakar, I.R., da Silva, I., Pretorius, R., Tarabieh, K. Leal Filho
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Africa
  • Circular economy
  • Circular models
  • Social enterprise


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