Skip to main content

The Trickle Out Africa Project

Trickle Out is a research project funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) examining social and environmental enterprises in Eastern and Southern Africa, and their role in sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

Initially based at Queen's University Belfast Management School, the project drew upon researchers from Essex Business School the University of Essex and the Henley Business School, the University of Reading.

The Project was led by Dr Diane Holt (Principal Investigator) who is a Senior Lecturer in Management at the Essex Business School, with Associate Prof. David Littlewood (an affiliate of the JMCR) collaborating. David was previously employed as a full time Research Fellow working on the project.

HCCM Divider blank

Project Details

The primary objectives of this study were to (a) identify examples of social and environmental enterprises in the Southern Africa Development Community and Eastern Africa Community; and (b) to explore and evaluate the role that these enterprises may play as a mechanism to 'trickle out' social, environmental and economic benefits to community groups economically considered to be at the 'base/bottom of the pyramid' (BoP).

Through analysis of secondary data and online materials, and discussions and engagement with regional practitioner networks and actors, an online 'Directory of Eco-Social Enterprises, Agencies & Associations' was developed, with over 4000 organisations listed.

Utilising a unique dataset of social and environmental enterprises across East and Southern Africa a quantitative survey was carried out addressing themes like the business models of these organisations, their funding regimes, internal governance and decision making etc.

In-depth case study research was carried out with 20 social and environmental enterprises in Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique, focussed on understanding how these organisations operate and mapping their 'trickle out' sustainable development and poverty alleviation impacts.

We worked with a number of partner organisations, institutions and networks across Eastern and Southern Africa including the African Social Entrepreneurs Network (ASEN) and the East African Social Enterprise Network (EASEN)

To find out more please visit our project website:

HCCM Divider blank