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Ethics and Leadership News

October 11, 2010

How Social Entrepreneurship Can Bridge Cultural Divides

Social entrepreneurship can be a powerful force for bridging cultural divides.

Social entrepreneurship is proving to be a powerful force for bridging cultural divides. Columbia Business School recently completed its second year of the Rothschild Fellowship Program, which brings together Muslim and Jewish social entrepreneurs to discuss how business can contribute to their social and economic goals. In a recent article in Forbes, Professors Bruce Kogut and Kamel Jedidi discussed the power of social entrepreneurship in creating a dialogue between different cultures.

This year, the Rothschild Program included 24 Muslim and Jewish participants from France, the UK, and the United States, all who had created projects before joining the program. The program expanded on participants' business interests, teaching courses on strategy, marketing, and finance, as well as educated them about each others' respective cultures. This cross-cultural exposure sought to increase knowledge and sensitivity of each other's backgrounds and encourage them to seek opportunities to work together. “Entrepreneurs—particularly social entrepreneurs—are motivated by more than just material objectives,” Professor Kogut said in a Financial Times story. “They have aspirations to make things better: to bring a new product, or a new service to the world that corresponds to a social need.”

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