Global warming and the extinguishing of primary energy reserves are just some of the reasons why the world is taking a ‘transition path’ from unsustainable business practices to renewable and sustainable activities (Bansal et al. 2019; Saebi et al. 2019). During the last decades, many governments have acknowledged these issues and several international actions have been undertaken from the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 to the creation in 2015 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aiming to end poverty and fight climate change by ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (Warnecke and Houndonougbo, 2016; OECD/EU. 2017; Oxfam, 2017). As a result, sustainable development has become a crucial concept for both scholars and practitioners (Hockerts and Wüstenhagen, 2010; Johnson and Schaltegger, 2019).
In particular, sustainable development implies that renewable resources should be used wherever possible and that non-renewable resources should be husbanded (e.g., reduced and recycled) to extend their viability for generations to come. This intergenerational aspect of sustainable development suggests a confluence of diverse social, environment, and economic objectives and raises a number of important contributions on entrepreneurial journals as Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Cleaner Production, Business Strategy and Environment (among others, Cohen and Winn, 2007; Dean and McMullen, 2007; Hall et al. 2010; Boons and Lüdeke-Freund, 2013; Johnson and Schaltegger, 2019). This vast research on sustainable development focused the attention on climate change and environmental disasters and proposed the importance of enterprises as significant and vital vehicles to promote environmental transformation, as well as contributing to sustainable development (Bansal et al. 2016; Johnson and Schaltegger, 2019; Saebi et al. 2019; Doherty et al. 2020).
Among various types of enterprises, hybrid organizations have been recently recognized as leading form to simultaneously pursue different missions and implement also divergent processes (Haigh and Hoffman, 2011; Holt and Littlewood, 2015; Ciambotti and Pedrini, 2019; Saebi et al. 2019). Leading form of hybrid organization are social enterprise and sustainable businesses, which aim to address societal or environmental issues, by also assuring a financial sustainability (Santos et al. 2015; Battilana et al. 2017; Hahn et al. 2018).
These hybrid organizations are associated also to green enterprises
Social enterprises are associated also to green enterprises and environmental businesses as suitable organizational form to address unmet needs of poor people as well as promote positive environmental impact (Hockerts, 2006; Littlewood and Holt, 2017; Holt et al. 2011). For instance, M-Kopa is a social and environmental enterprise that produce and delivers micro-grid social panels in rural areas of East Africa. While it addresses the extreme shortage of energy access in such area especially for poor people, it also incredibly contributes to environmental transition of such developing context. In fact, poor people, who lack access to cleaner and affordable energy, are often trapped in a repeating cycle of deprivation and limited incomes (Holt and Littlewood, 2017). They are forced to use significant amounts of their very scarce income on expensive and unhealthy forms of energy that provide poor or unsafe services such as dry cell batteries, rudimentary and inefficient kerosene lamps, charcoal and candles (Boons and Lüdeke-Freund, 2013; Hahn et al. 2018).
Yet, despite the promise of social and environmental entrepreneurship holds for fostering sustainable development (Warnecke and Houndonougbo, 2016; Johnson and Schaltegger, 2019; Doherty et al. 2020), and the important studies on sustainable (hybrid) busin