Using B-School Skills for Successful Social Entrepreneurship

Businesses have a significant impact on a society’s culture and ethical norms. Professionals who understand the ties between entrepreneurial ventures and their effects on social activity will be more equipped to work in the modern, interconnected world.

William Paterson University (WP) offers an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Entrepreneurship program. The degree program is designed to help entrepreneurs develop the skills needed to successfully lead new ventures in a challenging business environment. Beyond driving financial success, the skills that students gain can be essential for making a positive difference through social entrepreneurship.

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

According to the Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation (CSEF), a social entrepreneur is “a person who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change.” These individuals use entrepreneurial practices and innovation to drive systemic change and societal progress.

Social entrepreneurship connects closely to the concept of “social enterprise,” defined by the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) as “organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social or environmental problem through a market-driven approach.” Social enterprise “blurs the lines of the traditional business, government and non-profit sectors.”

The practices and methodologies involved with social entrepreneurship and enterprise are similar to those of traditional entrepreneurship, but the goals can differ significantly. Social entrepreneurs blend financial goals with those oriented toward social or environmental change. Essentially, they seek to grow financially sustainable (and/or profitable) organizations that better the world in targeted ways.

Social Enterprise Models

Whether for-profit or nonprofit, social enterprises use various methods to tackle many problems. SEA provides three generalized models of social enterprise:

  1. Opportunity employment: Employing individuals who face hurdles to mainstream employment, equity in pay and financial stability (for women, members of minority groups, previously incarcerated people, etc.).
  2. Transformative products or services: Offering innovative products or services that drive positive change (environmentally sustainable technologies, educational technologies, etc.).
  3. Donate back: Providing funding to nonprofits and causes through donating a portion of an organization’s profits.

Corporations may also use their platforms and influence to support social and environmental justice issues in other ways. For instance, a company may choose locations for new factories or retail stores based on the social or ecological “scorecard” of a local jurisdiction or state. A corporation could use its social media presence to promote and provide exposure for social and environmental causes, campaigns and organizations.

An essential part of the social enterprise is also leading by example, demonstrating goals and values across an organization’s operations. Examples of this are ensuring workforce diversity and equitable pay, reforming hiring practices to remove bias and setting (and achieving) environmental sustainability goals.

Types of Social Entrepreneurs

Net Impact outlines four types of social entrepreneurs in terms of scale and approach to social enterprise:

  • The Community Social Entrepreneur: These entrepreneurs work closely with their communities to address local and regional problems.
  • The Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur: As Net Impact describes, these entrepreneurs “prioritize social well-being over traditional business needs.” All profits go back into the organization to scale offerings, services and positively impact social goals.
  • The Transformational Social Entrepreneur: These individuals and the organizations they grow focus on solving problems that are not being addressed adequately by governments and other organizations.
  • The Global Social Entrepreneur: This involves larger organizations that shift efforts to combine business and social responsibility goals on a global scale. Business leaders can drive these efforts by setting up foundations or altering business practices and strategies.

How Can an MBA Help Social Entrepreneurs Be More Impactful?

A social entrepreneur’s motivations may not be driven solely by profit and growth, but those are still  important to business decision-making. As a result, the social entrepreneur may need an even greater degree of business knowledge to be successful while balancing social and business goals.

WP’s MBA in Entrepreneurship online program focuses on a breadth of essential business functions like finance, marketing, economics and organizational management. At start-up organizations, social entrepreneurs are responsible for managing a wide range of these functions throughout development stages.

The program also emphasizes sustainable strategic management. Students examine how management practices and innovation drive environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility. They also study how influence, persuasion and negotiation can help social entrepreneurs interact and collaborate effectively with the community and other organizations.

Students develop their creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are invaluable to business management, leadership practices, identifying problems and generating informed solutions. In addition, the advanced business acumen students gain through WP’s entrepreneurship studies can help social entrepreneurs grow and expand their ventures. Scaling an organization means growing the impact an organization has in a broader community and culture, assisting social entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and broaden the reach of their efforts.

Learn more about William Paterson University’s online MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship program.

Our Commitment to Content Publishing Accuracy

Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only. The nature of the information in all of the articles is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.

The information contained within this site has been sourced and presented with reasonable care. If there are errors, please contact us by completing the form below.

Timeliness: Note that most articles published on this website remain on the website indefinitely. Only those articles that have been published within the most recent months may be considered timely. We do not remove articles regardless of the date of publication, as many, but not all, of our earlier articles may still have important relevance to some of our visitors. Use appropriate caution in acting on the information of any article.

Report inaccurate article content: