Social Enterprise Programs Growing in Popularity at Business Schools

by Joe Lavelle on January 12, 2011

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I firmly believe in the idea that we are all connected as people who share this planet, and the relationships that we build are essential to both our personal and professional happiness.  And, just as importantly, we have the opportunity to contribute to the happiness of others.  This is why I love highlighting stories about people and organizations that are giving back to their communities through time, money, and ideas.  And, I was greatly encouraged by a recent article that shared the growing popularity of social enterprise programs at some of our country’s leading business schools.  Students are embracing the idea of using a business education to help build the success of a non-profit organization or develop another career that is based on social responsibility.

The article points to two businesses started by recent graduates of the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania who have used their degrees to become social entrepreneurs.  One of these businesses is Warby Parker, an eyeglass brand that donates a pair of glasses to a person in need for every pair that is sold.  In the other example, Hydros Bottles works to reduce the clean water crisis and cut down on disposable water bottles by selling a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter.  These are just two success stories that can be told by the many students who are demanding more courses and other academic opportunities within the field of social enterprise.

Some say that this trend is connected to the struggling economy and when profit-driven jobs in the financial sector return, the desire for these “do-good” programs will diminish.  Do you agree with this assessment, or do you think the growth in these programs speaks to a more ingrained desire in this generation of students to serve in a powerful and immediate way?

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