Exclusive: 10 key findings from the first experts' poll on the best countries for social entrepreneurs

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United States has come top of the first experts’ poll on the best nations for entrepreneurs using businesses to tackle social problems but the survey found the work of social entrepreneurs remains a mystery to most people, hampering growth.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of almost 900 social enterprise experts in the world’s 45 biggest economies found a lack of public understanding, access to investment and selling to governments were the biggest challenges facing the sector.

But the survey, conducted online between June 9 and July 15, found women were well represented in management roles in social enterprises and fared particularly well in Asia.

Below are 10 key findings of the poll launched on Sept 15 in San Francisco at SOCAP16, the major annual event for social capital markets:

1. The United States tops the ranking as the best nation for social entrepreneurs, followed by Canada and Britain

2. Singapore and Israel complete the top five

3. Turkey came bottom of the ranking (with Iran excluded as it was impossible to get enough respondents)

4. Also ranked poorly were Venezuela, Brazil and Ireland - all countries where government policy does not support social entrepreneurs, experts say

5. Social entrepreneurship is gaining momentum globally with 85 percent of the experts surveyed saying the sector is growing

6. But nearly 60 percent said a lack of public awareness, access to investment and selling to governments were the main challenges

7. Access to investment was seen to be easier in Canada, Singapore, the United States and Belgium but also in the Philippines and India

8. On women, about 68 percent of experts said women are well represented in management in social enterprises - but only 48 percent said women were paid the same as men

9. Asian countries fared best on women with the Philippines ahead of the rest

10. Berlin, London, Hong Kong, Santiago and Nairobi were cited as the leading hot spots for social entrepreneurs.

(For the full results of the 2016 poll on the best countries for social entrepreneurs go to