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University of Delaware - Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics

By Lerner January 10, 2017

Students in UD’s Lerner College’s M.S. in entrepreneurship & design as well as the MBA in entrepreneurial studies work through the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship to gain the skills and insight to understand how creativity and entrepreneurial thinking can create a number of career options — and maybe even to make the world a better place.

Students in these programs can elect to take ENTR620 “Social Entrepreneurship” where they deepen their understanding of the world around them, and learn how business and entrepreneurial thinking can drive social change. Students will see different perspectives of social entrepreneurship, learn from various case studies and discover how to create a social venture.

So, what is social entrepreneurship?

In an article published in Technology Innovation Management Review, Samer Abu-Saifan writes, “Social entrepreneurship is the field in which entrepreneurs tailor their activities to be directly tied with the ultimate goal of creating social value. In doing so, they often act with little or no intention to gain personal profit.”

“A social entrepreneur ‘combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination commonly associated with, for instance, the high-tech pioneers of Silicon Valley,’” Abu-Saifan writes.

The Harvard Business Review studied various social ventures and leaders and found one common thread: “They all focus on changing two features of an existing system — the economic actors involved and the enabling technology applied — to create sustainable financial models that can permanently shift the social and economic equilibrium for their targeted beneficiaries.”

The article continues to give examples of various social ventures and how they are applying this thinking.

Social entrepreneurship often falls into one of two camps: either as a non-profit organization with earned income strategies, where revenues and profits generated are used only to further improve the delivery of social values — for example, Proximity Designs, a social enterprise that designs products and services to help rural families in Myanmar achieve their goals; or, as a for-profit, social-purpose business with mission-driven strategies, performing social and commercial entrepreneurial activities simultaneously to achieve sustainability — for example, TOMS Shoes.