The United States topped the list of the best nations for entrepreneurs using businesses to tackle social problems, the first of its kind the Thomson Reuters Foundation poll showed.
The survey also found the work of social entrepreneurs remains a mystery to most people, hampering growth.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation poll was carried out in partnership with Deutsche Bank, the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN) and UnLtd, foundations for social entrepreneurs.
Almost 900 social enterprise experts in the world's 45 biggest economies were asked online between June 9 and July 15. It included social entrepreneurs, academics, investors, policy-makers and support network staff in the 45 biggest economies in the World Bank's 2014 ranking. Iran had to be dropped as it was impossible to get enough respondents.
Canada and Britain came second and third in the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey with Singapore and Israel rounding out the top five.
All experts found a lack of public understanding, access to investment and selling to governments were the biggest challenges facing the sector.
Turkey ranked as having the worst environment for social entrepreneurs, scoring poorly in most of 12 indicators used to measure political, economic, regulatory and cultural factors. Ireland and Venezuela also fared badly.
Most experts, 85 percent, said the number of social entrepreneurs finding ways of combining business with social purpose was growing although there is little data tracking the sector.
But nearly 60 percent of the experts surveyed cited three major challenges in the growing sector - people do not know what social entrepreneurs do which makes raising funds difficult and selling to governments is an uphill struggle.
Also Berlin, London, Hong Kong, Santiago and Nairobi were cited as the leading hot spots for social entrepreneurs.