Ask Jen! Social Entrepreneurship

Welcome to Ask Jen, a weekly Q&A with the “career doctor” herself Jennifer Kushell! Every Wednesday, Jen will answer one of your burning career questions so start sending them in!

If you would like to submit a question, please e-mail and she’ll do her best to get to them all. Oh, and don’t forget to register on – Your Success Network and fill out your profile so we can link back to it!

YSN member Monique asks: I’ve been hearing a lot about “Social Entrepreneurship” lately and I’m curious to know how it differs from general entrepreneurship?

Jen responds: Great question! Social entrepreneurship is where business and social action merge to create companies that aim to “do well by doing good.” In my opinion, it should be the standard all entrepreneurs and businesses live by, but for now, it’s a growing trend that will hopefully one day become the norm. Tons of great information is available online through a myriad of articles, sites and organizations focused on the topic, but if you’re looking to really dive into this world from an academic perspective, there are some outstanding options emerging.

Whether you’re looking for a great evening event to attend, a class you can take, a major in the topic, or even just want to know where all the action is in this area, here are the first two places I’d start: Babson College outside of Boston is actually building a Center for Social Entrepreneurship and is already offering some really fascinating classes on the subject. And since many would argue that this is the mecca of entrepreneurship education in the US, you couldn’t learn about this new spin on traditional thinking from any better people.

So, if you’re in the market for a phenomenal experience and a serious education on the topic, one class promises to cover: Concepts of Social Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Enterprise (NPE). These NPEs, driven by innovative non-profit entrepreneurs, generate social value, in a triple bottom line model – (social return to mission customers, operational performance return for sustainability for organizational, employee, leadership and brand value and stakeholder/donor return). Various NPE business models seek to generate and leverage resources via a process we will explore known as “Entrepreneurial Philanthropy.”

Harvard also has some great classes and even a Social Entrepreneurship Lab! They describe it as a university incubator for a rising generation of leading social entrepreneurs fusing theoretical and practical approaches. In essence, “the SE Lab is a laboratory workshop where student teams create and develop plans for US and international social entrepreneurship initiatives… new entities or innovative projects, partnerships”, etc. “Areas include, but are not limited to: environment, poverty alleviation/microfinance, global health, human rights, gender/racial equality, education, corporate social responsibility, economic development, international conflict/resolutions, social innovation, and more.”

How inspiring is that?! There’s so much more to talk about on this subject, but hopefully this was a good first taste.