There has been a corresponding rise in interest in academia in South Africa and across the world. This includes increased social entrepreneurship/innovation research activity at the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Wits and the Network for Social Entrepreneurs at GIBS University of Pretoria, amongst others. South African scholars in these fields, especially those at the start of their career undertaking PhDs or just starting in academia, can often be isolated in the global research environment. There is a need to offer opportunities to reach out to others in similar research areas across South Africa and the rest of the world. Sharing their own insights and learning from others is critical to developing excellent, rigorous and useful research that has the potential to improve the quality and impact of the research being undertaken on social entrepreneurship and innovation in South Africa. Developing research capacity across South Africa through exposure to cutting edge methodological techniques offers the opportunity to strengthen the collection and analysis of data to produce empirically rigorous work. Publishing in high quality outlets with an international reach is also important in showcasing the excellent research occurring in these areas in South Africa to the global research and practitioner communities.
Through this NRF ESRC funded "South African PhD Partnering Network for Inclusive Growth through Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SASIE)" we will deliver the SASIE programme and form a SASIE network of global scholars to exchange knowledge, network and collaborate. Its themes will focus on the broad role of enterprise-based development models and in particular all aspects associated with social innovation, social entrepreneurship and enterprise based inclusive growth initiatives. It is delivered through a partnership between the two lead institutions of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa (Wits) and the University of Essex in the UK with its Doctoral Training Centre in Social Sciences, and a consortium of South African universities. Ten South African PhD placements students will be drawn from across this consortium of Wits, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, with some places available for eligible PhD students from across any South African university. A further 10 PhD placement students will come from across various Schools at the University of Essex .
A series of activities are planned over the three year programme that will facilitate sustainable links between partners, improve research capacity and training, and build a research community in South Africa and internationally linked to the SASIE research themes. In brief these comprise of:
- A publicly available and searchable database hosted on the project website available to researchers around the work;
- Advanced Research Methods Training Workshops available to PhD students and researchers in South Africa;
- PhD workshops and Colloquiums;
- PhD placements;
- Supervisor visits;
- A public seminar series showcasing SASIE research; and
- Conference attendance bursaries
The first, and primary, group of beneficiaries of this PhD partnering network activities are researchers whose research or PhD topics are in the areas of social entrepreneurship, social innovation, and wider topics related to inclusive growth linked in some manner to enterprise-based initiatives or themes. This beneficiary group will come from across South Africa and the UK but also accessed from across the world through our detailed 'pathways to impact'. A detailed overview of this group is provided in the academic beneficiaries section but includes: PhD students, early career researchers and faculty in South Africa; UK PhD students from Essex, the Essex DTC, and from elsewhere in the UK; UK and South African supervisors; the universities of Wits, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan and Pretoria who will host the various activities; and a wide-range of academics from across the world and multiple disciplines interested in the research profiled in the SASIE directory and events.
The second main group of beneficiaries are the recipients of the range of programmes, initiatives and projects these academic researchers are involved in. The SASIE programme will enhance the quality of work being undertaken by these researchers and may lead to new projects through collaborations between members.
The third group of potential beneficiaries are social entrepreneurs, NGOs and businesses in South Africa, but also across the world, where the work profiled in the researcher directory can act as 'examples' to others interested in such topics, giving inspiration but also offer insights to successful implementation.
The fourth group of beneficiaries is policy makers interested in using enterprise-based initiatives as a vehicle for inclusive growth, sustainable development and poverty alleviation, especially through the promotion of social innovation and entrepreneurship who can use the project resources to identify individuals, enterprises and programmes that maybe of interest.
The final beneficiaries are civil society more widely, including the media, who can learn about the work of individual researchers who provide their details in the researcher directory. By offering this resource we bring the body of work being undertaken by these researchers into the public domain in one easily searchable directory. This directory will be linked to the Trickle Out Africa directory (set up by the UK PI Holt) which profiles social and environmental enterprises and support agencies associated with this in sub-Saharan Africa listing 1000+ from South Africa. Bringing these two together means we have both enterprises or other organisations and the researchers that study them in one publicly available location for any interested in learning more and reaching out to them.
We discuss our Pathways to Impact in more detail later. In summary though we offer a series of key deliverables through which we generate impact. These include:
- PhD Fellowships - UK (10) & SA (10);
- Worldwide online directory of SASIE network researchers;
- Advanced Research Methods Training Workshops (ARMT) held twice each year in South Africa for three years on advanced methodological techniques such as social network analysis, textual analysis, using big data;
- PhD Workshops (in South Africa) run alongside the ARMT workshops on doctoral training topics aimed at PhD students from across S.Africa;
- Colloquiums to present on-going PhD research;
- Supervisor mobility;
- Conference attendance; and
- Four public seminars in UK and S.Africa