Social entrepreneurship’s rapid emergence over the past decade has coincided with the rise of information technology that has given individuals more power now than at any point in history. The social entrepreneur’s question is simple: How can we use that power to make a positive, sustainable contribution to society?
Social entrepreneurship involves using the skills and strategies of business to innovatively and sustainably solve social, environmental, and economic problems. The ventures created by social entrepreneurs can be non-profit, for-profit, or an innovative hybrid of the two.
Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
Kristin E. Joos, Ph.D.
Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainability Initiative
Warrington College of Business
What distinguishes social entrepreneurs is their unrelenting dedication to achieving their “mission” (rather than measuring their success only by their financial bottom-line). Social entrepreneurs are working to create positive change, by fostering social and economic equality, protecting our environment and its resources, and ensuring human rights in our local communities and across the world. This involves a commitment to sustainability by decreasing their waste/environmental impact and enhancing the quality of life – while providing an outstanding product or service to their customers.
Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish, or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.
Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka (the foundation for social entrepreneurship), coined the term “social entrepreneurship” in the mid-1990s. He famously said, “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish, or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” According to Greg Dees, the founding director of Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation and Duke’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship involves: adopting a mission to create and sustain social value; recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission; engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning; acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand; and exhibiting a heightened sense of accountability for the outcomes created.
Today’s social entrepreneurs find themselves at a critical junction. In order to thrive in a corporate world, they must integrate innovative business management principles with their philanthropic goals to create more effective and innovative social ventures. We will take a look at the many different ways ventures have evolved to balance the expectations and desires of their board of directors, employees, volunteers, providers of funding and ultimately and most importantly-the customers.
The purpose of this course is to provide students with an introduction to the major opportunities and challenges facing social entrepreneurs and their ventures. Social entrepreneurship’s rapid emergence over the past decade has coincided with the rise of information technology that has given individuals more power now than at any point in history. The social entrepreneurs question is simple: How can we use that power to make a positive, sustainable contribution to society?
The course will consist of lectures, discussions, assignments, a profile of a social entrepreneur, and an experiential learning project. The range of topics to be discussed is quite broad, from issues like microfinance and venture philanthropy, to corporate social responsibility, blended value propositions, the triple bottom line and SROI calculations, to addressing critical social and environmental problems (like poverty, hunger, disease, lack of education, and environmental destruction) with innovative solutions. In addition, students will have an opportunity to meet several social entrepreneurs, learn about specific social, environmental, and economic issues, and work on an experiential learning project as consultants with startup social ventures.
Ultimately, we hope to both empower and inspire you to, as Minor Myers Jr. said, “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
Current studentsTalk to your Academic Advisor to see how this course could fit into your academic plan.
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