Social entrepreneurship applies entrepreneurial principles to solving social problems by creating ventures for social change. While business entrepreneurs have revolutionized entire industries, social entrepreneurs are out to transform society. Social enterprises are usually associated with the non-profit sector.
Social entrepreneurs implement change by improving systems, creating and applying new approaches, and advancing sustainable solutions that create social value. According to social entrepreneurship expert David Bornstein, "Social entrepreneurs identify resources where people only see problems. They view the villagers as the solution, not the passive beneficiary. They begin with the assumption of competence and unleash resources in the communities they're serving."
As a social entrepreneur, it's your job to identify societal problems and find ways to fix them. In order to solve the problem, you need to not only change the system, but convince entire societies to change as well. That level of change requires long hours and a lot of hard work. A successful entrepreneur is someone who has the determination to work through all the obstacles in their way.
While social entrepreneurship may seem like a new phenomenon, examples of social entrepreneurship can be found throughout history. PBS Heroes has a slideshow with several examples of early social entrepreneurs, who you probably learned about in your grade school history classes. Florence Nightingale, for example, is considered the founder of modern nursing since she started the first nursing school and developed modern nursing practices.
The term "social entrepreneurship" was coined by Bill Drayton, who founded Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in 1980. Launched with only $50,000, Ashoka had a $30.5 million budget and 1,600 fellows in 60 countries in 2005. While you may expect a social entrepreneur to be a freewheeling hippie, Drayton is a Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law Schol graduate who worked at McKinsey. Like most social entrepreneurs, Drayton views social change as a strategic mission rather than a romantic notion. In 2005, Drayton told U.S. News & World Report "[Social entrepreneurship is] not a poem; it's not like Xanadu. There are many people who are creative and altruistic, but they are never going to change a pattern across a continent."
Social Entrepreneurship Courses
And How They Can Help You Start a Social Entreprise
Since social enterprises operate like a business, social entrepreneurs need to have good business skills. Social entrepreneurs need to do other business related tasks such as customer interaction and budgeting. An MBA can help you get those skills.
More business schools are offering social entrepreneurship courses in order to meet growing demand, according to MSNBC. More business schools are adding Social Entrepreneurship departments, but skills learned in Non-Profit Management courses and classes about business practices in developing countries can also be used to build a social enterprise. In addition to social entrepreneurship courses, business school offerings for social entrepreneurs include clubs, competitions, and international study.
MBA in Social Entrepreneurship
Here are some of the best places to get your MBA in social entrepreneurship according to Poets & Quants:
Yale has been listed as one of the best schools for non-profit management by U.S. News & World Report since 1993. In addition to offering 13 non-profit management courses, Yale also has a Program on Social Enterprise which facilitates work on non-profit and public sector entrepreneurship, as well as private sector social enterprise. For students interested in environmental social enterprises, Yale's Business and Environment Program allows students to earn a joint MBA/Masters in Environmental studies degree in conjunction with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Haas' Center for Non-Profit and Public Leadership seeks to inspire and support students in applying their business skills to the social sector. Non-profit coursework revolves around four themes: social entrepreneurship and social impact, governance and leadership, organizational strategy, and financial management. Hands-on social entrepreneurship programs include the S3 (Social Sector Solutions) consulting program and the Oakland Small Schools Residency. The Berkeley Board Fellows program places over 60 students on the boards of around 50 non-profits.
In 1971, Stanford became the first business school to offer their MBAs a certificate in public management. Stanford's Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program provides students with coaching including advice on courses, internships, and opportunities for working in the social sector after graduation. Stanford's Center for Social Innovation offers up to 30 electives a year on public policy, non-profit management, social and environmental entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropy.
The Social Enterprise at Kellogg (SEEK) program is designed to help students become global leaders through classes that build their leadership skills as well as their awareness of societal issues. Kellogg's Loan Assistance Program helps students enter the public and non-profit sectors by reducing the debt burden that may otherwise prevent them from working in the social sector.
According to Poets & Quants, over 95 Harvard Business School faculty members have participated in social enterprise research and teaching. Harvard's social enterprise MBA program includes a required course, electives and independent projects. The Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship provides $10,000 grants to 7 to 10 first year-students who are leaders in social entrepreneurship. Beyond the classroom, students can participate in the social venture track of the Harvard Business Plan Contest, and social enterprise summer fellowships. There are over 400 members in the Social Enterprise Club, making it one of Harvard's largest student clubs.