The world is currently facing various social and environmental challenges that require innovative and sustainable solutions [1
]. Therefore, social entrepreneurship has emerged as a promising approach to tackling these challenges, with the potential to create positive social and environmental impacts through business ventures [3
]. The term “social entrepreneurship” refers to business ventures which seek to create an enterprise with a social mission [4
]. It enables business owners to make a positive change in the world while also generating a profit [6
]. Moreover, to address societal gaps through cutting-edge innovation, social entrepreneurship can be seen as a catalyst for positive change [7
]. Social entrepreneurs are gaining more and more recognition for the positive impact they may have on society, culture, and the economy [9
]. Additionally, businesses with a social mission are able to see the big picture of society’s challenges and find novel solutions that bring attention to those issues in general [10
]. Moreover, social entrepreneurs are change makers, inventing new ways to support and develop those who are excluded from the opportunities of modern society.
In today’s business world, the availability of financial resources is a major obstacle for any entrepreneur. Moreover, raising funds is a significant obstacle for entrepreneurs who are in social entrepreneurship ventures [11
]. Because social motives often outweigh financial concerns, and do not fit with the interests of traditional forms of financing (banks, business angels, venture capital, etc.), a lack of funding is a particularly serious issue for social entrepreneurs [13
]. Furthermore, social goals do not always align with the goal of maximizing profit, and conventional lenders and investors tend to shy away from projects with a social aspect [14
]. Moreover, during the global economic crisis, several national governments reduced social spending, drastically reducing the amount of aid available [15
]. Social entrepreneurs often face significant challenges in assessing funding to support their ventures, particularly those that give emphasis to social and environmental impact over profit. If social enterprises are able to raise sufficient funds for their activities, they can play a crucial role in mitigating the serious repercussions of severe crises [16
Nevertheless, in practice it is extremely challenging for social entrepreneurs to obtain funding through conventional channels. Therefore, conventional financial mechanisms are inadequate to foster the expansion of social entrepreneurship ventures [17
]. In today’s competitive market, acquiring funding for social entrepreneurial ventures requires more innovative and creative methods [19
Crowdfunding is a relatively new fundraising tool that is increasingly expected to help bridge this gap [20
], since it is one of the viable options for financing social entrepreneurship projects [4
]. As a novel method of obtaining funds, crowdfunding possesses special features. These are the crowd, the fundraiser, and the online funding platform itself, which all play key roles in collecting the funds [23
]. Moreover, crowdfunding is considered to be a panacea of the development of entrepreneurial finance since it enables the raising of capital from a large number of small investors using the Internet [24
Crowdfunding has emerged as a potential solution to those funding constraints, enabling social entrepreneurs to assess capital and build networks for supporters. Moreover, when making their decisions, crowdfunding investors consider more than just financial returns, including the credibility of the project and the desire to feel like they had a contribution in creating something [13
]. Crowds’ prosocial motivations and expectations of natural rewards are the primary reasons that attract supporters or investors to participate in social entrepreneurship ventures [26
]. Hence, studies have shown that crowdfunding actually not only removes the need for financial intermediaries, but also drives innovation by enabling contact between ventures and consumers [28
]. Many people see crowdfunding as a revolutionary approach to funding for social entrepreneurship ventures [29
With the growing interest in these ideas in the academic community, the literature on social entrepreneurship (SE) and crowdfunding (CF) has developed considerably in the first decade of study. Notwithstanding this remarkable development, to the best of our knowledge no one has ever attempted to provide a bibliographic analysis of how the subject has evolved through time and the way the research in this area has developed. This article aims to identify, synthesize, and evaluate the existing research on the nexus of SE–crowdfunding to better understand the current state of the field and its future research directions. We analyze the profiles of the authors and publications written on the topic, the themes explored by researchers, the primary publication sources, and the geographical spread of the researchers interested in SE crowdfunding. This can be useful for evaluating where current knowledge stands and in which areas to concentrate researchers’ and academicians’ attention to further develop the topic.
This study used a bibliometric review for unveiling the past, present, and future research directions. Bibliometrics is a statistical methodology that examines basic information from documents, such as authors, keywords, and references, in order to provide insight into the evolution of a research topic [30
]. Moreover, researchers might find “hidden patterns” that contribute to their studies by analyzing data, investigating, and organizing factual information about a research topic [32
]. Here, the researchers basically used co-words and co-citation analysis to evaluate the research direction and research themes. Moreover, co-word analysis and co-citation analysis, when used together, present a clearer picture of how research themes are organized and how they have developed over time. This also points out the direction that the research should take in the future [33
]. The aims of the study can be met if the researchers address the following research questions.
RQ1: How has the field of social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding research evolved in terms of publication numbers over time?
RQ2: What are the most productive journals in this field of study?
RQ3: Who are the top authors in this field?
RQ4: Which countries most contribute to this research area?
RQ5: What are the future research directions, and how has the concept of social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding changed over time?
The study is organized as follows: the concepts and practices of social entrepreneurship (SE) and crowdfunding (CF) are introduced in Section 2
. The research data, methods, and software utilized to generate these results are presented and discussed in Section 3
. Section 4
shows the results and analysis, which are the descriptive statistics of the dataset, the co-occurrence of the keywords over time, and the co-citation analysis of the articles on this field. The analysis and discussion of the results are presented in Section 5
. Conclusions, limitations, and suggestions for further study are presented in the final section.
6. Conclusions, Implications, Limitations, and Future Research
This bibliometric study has given a detailed picture of the current state of the research field encompassing social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding. The research showed that these themes are becoming increasingly vital to the fields of social innovation and impact investing, aiming to combat pressing societal and environmental issues and advance progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
By highlighting the primary research themes and knowledge gaps in the field of social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding, our study has made a significant contribution to the current body of literature on the topic. According to the bibliometric study, the first two articles on SE crowdfunding appeared in 2013, and the most articles on the subject appeared in 2019: 19. Research articles (66 articles out of 105 documents) have been published more frequently than any other sort of document over the years. The USA ranked first in research output, with 14 publications, followed by the UK (8) and Portugal (6). In addition, 28 different countries contributed to the study of the SE–crowdfunding domain. Only 12 countries have published two or more articles. Only two Asian countries, China, and Indonesia, have three publications among the top ten.
The Journal of Business Venturing Insights has the most papers published (five in total) among academic journals. Despite having published only four documents, the Journal of Technological Forecasting and Social Change came next. A total of three documents were released by Business Horizons, while two were published by Sustainability. Among the most prolific writers, Maija Renkor has published 4 papers that have been cited 372 times. After that were Othmar M. Lehner (3 publications, 210 citations) and Moriah Meyskens (2 publications, 136 citations).
Emerging topics include performance, impact, altruism, motivation, and commercialization. In the context of a social enterprise, measuring social performance is vital. In addition, it is crucial to evaluate their societal impact. The social motivation of social entrepreneurs is prioritized over economic motivation; therefore, the importance of motivation cannot be overstated. However, to succeed as a long-term social venture, the commercialization of the endeavor is far more crucial than philanthropy. Moreover, social entrepreneurs are torchbearers who address social issues and try to generate better opportunities by addressing the core causes of poverty and injustice.
The findings highlight the prospects of social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding as novel and efficient approaches to financing and promoting social enterprises. In recent years, crowdfunding platforms have expanded to enable new channels of communication and cooperation between businesses and investors. On the other side, social entrepreneurship is becoming widely acknowledged as a method to improve societal and environmental challenges while also making a profit.
The research also shows that there are possibilities and challenges in social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding, despite the promising outcomes that could result from these endeavors. We advocate for a collaborative effort between policymakers and practitioners to foster social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding through the provision of enabling policies, infrastructure, and resources. However, the study uncovered a total of four participants in the SE–crowdfunding network. The government, social entrepreneurs, the crowds, and the crowdfunding platform all play important roles in the raising of funds for SE through crowdfunding. Figure 8
depicts some of the policy recommendations made by the authors to ensure the smooth and reliable operation of fundraising through crowdfunding for social entrepreneurship.
Crowdfunding is one of FinTech’s new ideas. It can be a reliable way to raise money in developing and underdeveloped countries, especially African, South Asian, and Central Asian countries, because nowadays these countries are putting greater focus on building up their technological infrastructure [102
]. The reliability of this platform may be affected by the level of trust users have in it. Moreover, trust is a cornerstone of social capital, and plays a critical role in ensuring long-term success in areas such as economic growth. A study [103
] found that more than 60% of people in nations such as Norway and Sweden agreed with the statement “most people can be trusted” in the World Value Survey. In contrast, fewer than 10% of people in nations such as Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru shared this view. The government and affiliated parties can establish a regulatory structure to boost trust and reliability in cloud-based fundraising for developing countries. Therefore, crowdfunding could be a good alternative path for businesses, especially social businesses, to raise the money they need [104
Social entrepreneurship is a way to use business solutions to make and maintain a positive impact on society. Social entrepreneurs are committed to using business strategies to solve economic, social, or environmental problems such as poverty, hunger, good health and wellbeing, gender inequality, decent work and economic growth, climate change, and education. These are related to SDG-1, SDG-2, SDG-3, SDG-5, SDG-8, SDG-13, and SDG-4. Crowdfunding is a novel means of addressing the issue of social venture finance and developing a resilient strategy for social entrepreneurship fundraising. However, to have a greater positive effect on society, impact investors should invest more money into social enterprises.
Our research stays within its bounds. We used two databases, Scopus, and Web of Science, to compile our dataset. However, using three or more databases may affect the outcomes and direction of the study. Moreover, our study was also limited by the fact that the number of scientific papers on the database was always growing. Furthermore, only research publications written in English were examined for this analysis; important works of literature written in many other languages were excluded. In the future, researchers may combine several databases into a single, larger database for their investigations. In addition, future empirical research on how crowdfunding contributes to the funding of social entrepreneurship can focus solely on emerging and underdeveloped countries. Despite these limitations, the study is valuable because it provides a starting point for future research in the SE–crowdfunding sector and its orientation toward the existing body of knowledge for academics and policymakers.