This course introduces students to social entrepreneurs and their organizations around the world. What do these individuals and their organizations have in common, no matter where they are spawned? How does context influence the problems they choose to address, the organizational and business models they decide to pursue, and their growth options? When and how do they pursue partnerships with one another and with the business or public sectors, and what are the outcomes of such partnerships?
Social Entrepreneurship: A Global Perspective is structured in three parts. Part One provides an overview of the business models pursued by social entrepreneurs in different parts of the world, highlighting the strategic, resource and legal factors influencing their choice of model. The overview will be enriched by illustrations of leading examples of each model. Major global challenges will be examined with a view to exploring new business opportunities that embrace social transformation, including demographic, financial, health, environmental, education and digital challenges. Government and business approaches will be compared and contrasted with those taken by social entrepreneurs. Emphasis will be on finding how each builds the case for action – and identifying where synergies lie.
Part Two examines the growth options social entrepreneurs pursue for scaling their initiatives and how they seek to finance the expansion. To highlight these options, several leading social entrepreneurs acting internationally will share insights with you on how they started, the key challenges they faced, and how they determined their growth strategies.
Part Three takes an inside look at the thrills and challenges of being, or working with, a social entrepreneur. As MBA students, some of you will end up either founding social ventures, or working closely with founders of social ventures. How are the risks and rewards of working in social enterprise the same, or different, from those faced by mainstream small, medium and large business enterprises? How do you prepare yourself for the adventure, should you choose to pursue it?
The course will draw upon lectures, case studies (live and documented), and group work. You will have the opportunity to review and assess real entrepreneurial ventures from Latin America, Africa and Asia and provide a case write up to include alternative or complementary strategies to achieve the venture's mission.
Melanie Edwards was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2016 to 2020.