Social Network Analysis applied in different contexts

Swisscontact tested Social Network Analysis in Uganda, Rwanda, Indonesia, Albania and Cambodia – and learnt how it can be used as an analytical, an advocacy and a community building tool at the same time. 

Why SNA?

Strong ecosystems allow entrepreneurs to quickly find required knowledge and resources at each growth stage.

In recent years, entrepreneurship has become extremely fashionable and is getting more and more recognition as being an engine of social and economic change. In reality, however, we see that still very few businesses survive the first years and among those that do, only a small proportion constitute productive firms that create value by generating new jobs and contributing to local economic growth. This reality is even more exaggerated in developing countries.


Ecosystem Building is on everyone’s lips – but how to analyse and measure their effectiveness remains a big challenge.

Over the last years, there has been more awareness that the performance of new ventures is strongly impacted by something much larger than the business itself: the surrounding ecosystem. As a result, we see many decision-makers and development organizations shifting their attention towards a more holistic approach to facilitate the emergence of these ‘entrepreneurial ecosystems’.

However, this is a complex undertaking and the standard tools applied today do not live up with this new complexity for a variety of reasons:

  1. They tend to be a static snapshot focusing mainly on listing the actors
  2. Highly supply-side driven (what services are being offered) instead of looking if and how well these services are being accessed
  3. Ignore the relationships between the different actors


Ecosystem Building is strengthening collaboration between its actors and we need to be able to monitor and measure this.

However, the difference between a functioning and a well-functioning ecosystem is not only if these comprehensive sets of resources and support actors exist, but how well they are orchestrated around the specific needs of entrepreneurs.

We believe that social network analysis can provide an appropriate and innovative methodology for ecosystem builders as it focuses not only on the actors but mainly on the connectivity and relationships between them. By focusing first on the network and not the actors itself, we are able to understand to what level these services are orchestrated and if (and how well) they help entrepreneurs to transition from one growth stage to the next.

Connecting the Phnom Penh entrepreneurial ecosystem
Understanding entrepreneurial ecosystems through Social Network Analysis (SNA)
Connecting the Kigali entrepreneurial ecosystem