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Course Description

One of the biggest challenges we face in today’s global economy is the alleviation and ultimate elimination, of poverty. Unemployment, lack of economic opportunities and the inability to provide for one’s needs and those of one’s family, lead to destructive consequences at the individual level and can lead to crime and armed conflict at the social level. While the latest development theory recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise generation in combating poverty, providing employment and increasing income, in order to address poverty at the grass-roots level, we need to explore the intersection of traditional business concepts with social venturing. This course aims to provide an understanding of social entrepreneurship that will help us put theory into practice in a meaningful way.

This course will examine entrepreneurship and enterprise generation as a key foundation of the development of both economic and social capital, as well as individual and community empowerment. Its main emphasis will be the exploration of entrepreneurship with an imperative to drive social change and build sustainable ventures. Its focus will be on designing enterprises for the base of the economic pyramid in the context of disadvantaged communities. We will participate in the unfolding dialogue about what constitutes a “social entrepreneur”, develop an understanding of the power of “disruptive innovation”, and study success stories from around the world, thereby gaining valuable insights into how to develop our own enterprises.

This course will require critical thinking, be highly interactive, and students will share their experiences, ideas, insights and challenges. Participants will be able to apply the learning from this course to their own start-ups and field projects.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Understand the role of enterprise development in poverty reduction.
  • Identify key elements to designing a successful social venture.
  • Analyze social entrepreneurship in the context of developing sustainable businesses.
  • Network with resource organizations for social enterprise development projects.

Testimonials from Past Course Participants for Social Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development:

“Prior to taking this course, I was under the impression that social enterprises were mostly a branch off of non-profit organizations in order to diversify their revenue streams. Now I understand that social enterprise development offers is a new and innovative way to solve complex social problems. For many years I have struggled with the fact that non-profits are often very limited in the impact they are able to have because of the existing boundaries, and mindsets, that have kept them contained. Now I can see that social enterprises have a unique ability to work outside of the existing boundaries of a non-profit model and adapt innovative solutions to create a lasting sustainable impact.I am grateful that I was able to take this course as I now have a toolkit of resources that I can use in the work that I do in my community. I also have the confidence to better explain and assist others to understand the benefits of exploring a social enterprise model for creating community impact.”

“I just want to let you know how much I appreciate the content delivered in this class and am taking away so much from this course. It stirred up deep passions for creating change and making a difference in my own sphere that will hopefully spur ripple effects. Not only did it fire me up, but it also gave me the tools that I was desperately needing to guide me in my ventures Thank you”

“I have applied the learnings from social entrepreneurship to integrate local businesses into our asset based community development work”

“Good shift in thinking towards responsible and socially beneficial profit-making while not giving up community development principles.”

“I have applied the learnings from social entrepreneurship to integrate local businesses into our asset based community development work”

“I loved this class and thought it was really amazing.  I’ve always thought of myself as someone who had a “entrepreneurial spirit,” so much so that even when I walk by entrepreneur type of magazines, I’m almost tempted to pick one up, but then I realize I’m in a social non-profit type of world and it wouldn’t really apply to me.  I didn’t even know the term “Social Entrepreneur” until this class.

Getting to discover concepts such as the theoretical approach versus the empirical approach was a nice place to start in understanding these terms and concepts.  I had mentioned before how much I connected with the Medici Effect and the Intersector, and mixing ideas and industry, and that it’s totally ok to have an outside the box idea.  It really put words to thoughts I have about not following traditional paths, which is something I do a lot, meaning I’m constantly going outside of the box or doing something nontraditional; and not in a way to seem super hip or innovative, but more innovation from necessity, in you have to find a way to solve a problem.

I also was really impacted by some of the readings that lay out a path to ensure the communities being served have a voice in the development of whatever project is being done to empower them, and how important is to create a self-sustainable project.

This course will definitely impact my work going forward, both in a way where I will have language tools, but also in a very tangible way of now having various options, ideas and tools when dealing with ensuring sustainability, and community input, as well as empowering the team I’m leading.

Honestly, my biggest take away from this course is that I am leaving with a stronger sense of identity.  Reading about all of these traits of social entrepreneurship, I realized that I am a social entrepreneur. It clicked with the readings of the Medici Effect and the Intersector.  I’ve always gotten scrutiny over the years because I come up with many “outside the box” strategies when I came across a problem or need that could be classified as “opportunity entrepreneurship.”  From that reading on, I just ate up a lot of the material because it was either stuff I was already doing, but didn’t have the language or classification for it, or there was tangible tools to help me do some of the stuff I’ve struggled with.  I feel like I’ve found my tribe, that I didn’t even know existed”.

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