Over the last decade an increasing number of entrepreneurs are interested in initiating entrepreneurial projects that aim to bring social change. This special type of entrepreneurs are called social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs try to address social and environmental problems in the world, and with their effort, they not only manage to motivate key players, but influence as well people´s mindsets, generating a huge impact on the social landscape. On the other hand social entrepreneurs embody a different type of leadership, more interested in dialogue and collaboration.
The major difference between entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs is that while a business entrepreneur aims to design new industries, a social entrepreneur develops innovative solutions to tackle social problems and then implements them on a large scale, which leads to social innovation. Social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities missed by others, to improve systems. Unlike traditional business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs primarily seek to generate “social value” rather than profits.
As more young people dedicate themselves to social enterprise, business schools are also getting into the act. As an example, Harvard Business School mentioned that it has about 90 faculty members–more than most schools have faculty–engaged in social enterprise research, teaching and programs. On the other hand, Berkeley’s Haas School established a partnership with McKinsey & Co. so that McKinsey consultants act as supervisors to student teams who do pro-bono work for local non-profits.
What are considered to be the best businesses schools in terms of social entrepreneurship ?
1. Skoll Center For Social Entrepreneurship
The Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship is located at Oxford’s Said Business School . The school offers a solid and relatively new program that is attracting the best and brightest to the social sector. It was founded in 2003 due to a large award given by Jeff Skoll, the founding president of eBay. This school offers the possibility of getting a fully-funded MBA scholarship, as every year Skoll awards five scholarships to the best candidates. These will be then named Skoll Skollars. Skoll’ s program on social entrepreneurship is considered to be one of the best in the world.
2. Yale University’s School of Management
Yale’s School Of Management (SOM) has a program dedicated to Social Entreprise that states its clear mission: “Harnessing business skills to achieve social objectives.”
A partnership on non-profit ventures at the school brings together three strands of SOM teaching: entrepreneurship, business skills, and social responsibility. The school currently lists 13 electives in its course catalog for non-profit types, ranging from “Financial Statements of Non-Profit Organizations” to the “Business of Not-for-Profit Management.” The latter course seeks to answer the following questions, some of them quite funny: “How do not-for-profit organizations actually function? How do they attract ‘customers?’ How do these companies grow when there are no owners with financial incentives to grow the business? What are the core elements of a ‘good’ not-for-profit company?
3. Stanford Graduate School of Business
Stanford has a Centre for Social Innovation, that runs most of the social enterprise activity. There are up to 30 elective courses that can be taken in public policy, non-profit management, social and environmental entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropy. Some of these are: “Strategic Management of Non-Profits,” a course that delves into strategy, governance and leadership issues in social ventures, to “Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability,” a highly creative course done in cooperation with Stanford’s D-School. If you decide to study social entrepreneurship at Stanford, you will be able to participate in a variety of domestic and global service learning trips, internships, clubs, conferences and speaker events.
4. University of California-Berkeley (Haas School)
A school doing amazing work in social entrepreneurship is the Haas’ Center for Non-Profit and Public Leadership. Its mission is : “to inspire the next generation of leaders to create and seize opportunities to achieve social impact across sectors.” Haas’ center goal is to prepare students to use their business skills in the social sector. The course program focus on four core themes: social entrepreneurship and social impact, governance and leadership, organizational strategy, and financial management. The center also provides students with practical work opportunities that link MBAs up with non-profit leaders and their organizations.
5. Harvard Business School
Harvard has what it calls a “Social Enterprise Initiative” that was formed in 1993 by former Dean John McArthur with the initial support of alum John C. Whitehead. HBS pioneered the concept of “social enterprise” with the founding of its Social Enterprise Initiative twenty years ago. Since the Initiative’s founding its approach to social enterprise has encompassed the contributions any individual or organization can make toward social improvement, regardless of its legal form (nonprofit, private, or public sector). Their Social Entrepreneurship research explores the potential of entrepreneurship in the social sector, including similarities and differences in social and commercial entrepreneurship, growing nonprofits through networking; and strategies for scaling social impact.
This little list of business schools dedicated to social entrepreneurship can help the would-be social entrepreneur. But what will that student learn in a business school environment still largely shaped by the old philosophy of for-profit above everything else ? Greg Dees, co-founder of Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship gives a good answer to this puzzling question when reminding us of the true value of education : “We’re not teaching them to have the personal characteristics required to be a successful social entrepreneur any more than a music teacher teaches the personal characteristics to be a gifted musician,” “However, good teachers do more than teach. They also coax, encourage, inspire, reward, and model the kinds of characteristics associated with success. Though we don’t teach courage, for instance, we can inspire potential social entrepreneurs to act with courage by exposing them to people like themselves who have started social ventures. A teacher can draw out the potential of a student to be a social entrepreneur and most human beings have that potential if they want to exercise it.”