Educating Worldshapers 4 2017-12-14T07:26:29+00:00
College Based Social Innovation Centers


Social Entrepreneurship Centers and Sustainable Community Organizations

INTRODUCTIONSocial entrepreneurship can be defined as the development of innovative, mission-supporting, earned income, licensing, or job creating ventures undertaken by individual social entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, or nonprofits in association with for profits. Social entrepreneurship is both an approach to assisting “hard to serve” disadvantaged populations and financially sustaining the individuals and organizations that support them.

Greg Dees of the Fuqua Business School at Duke University has stated that, “Social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the social sector by: adopting a mission to create and sustain social value (not just private value); recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission; engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning; acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand; and exhibiting a heightened sense of accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created.”

Social Entrepreneurship is a growing theme on the horizon of the foundation and academic worlds. The Kauffman and Kellogg Foundations have subsidized the Social Enterprise Alliance since its inception as the National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs in 1998. The Roberts Foundation pioneered the portfolio model of venture capital based venture philanthropy with a group of 10 nonprofits that started social enterprises in the 1990’s. Internationally the Ashoka Foundation supports a fellowship of over 1200 social entrepreneurs. On the academic side Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Yale, Columbia et al have introduced research and internship based social entrepreneurship studies into their graduate school curricula. But what exactly is “social entrepreneurship”?

The social entrepreneur then (whether nonprofit or for profit) pursues opportunities in the marketplace without regard to original resource limitations and with the utmost creativity and innovation in order to achieve a community mission and create social value. What then are the needs of the social entrepreneur, how can the social entrepreneur and his work be encouraged and supported, and how can the social entrepreneur interface with the academic community?


Based on conversations with social entrepreneurs and their friends and supporters and available research we have concluded that social entrepreneurs have the following needs: generalized technical assistance for nonprofit enterprises; basic enterprise development assistance for start-ups; access to venture capital fund(s); working relationships with government agencies and college/university entrepreneurship and business programs; and development of local peer support networks.

One model for supporting social entrepreneurs involves a college/university based social entrepreneurship center to provide technical assistance to nonprofit social entrepreneurs, social purpose businesses, disadvantaged small business entrepreneurs, and small socially responsible locally based businesses.

The center model would provide student learning, research, and field internship opportunities and help mobilize volunteers in the business community. The outcomes of such a model would include: stronger community nonprofit charitable agencies; local small businesses enabled to find more secure market niches in face of increased outside competition; and building a foundation for future strong local small businesses through youth entrepreneurship training. The ultimate outcome is a stronger local economy through taking an integrative entrepreneurial community development approach.


The model below is based on existing programs at two small colleges in Kansas and New York. Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas has an Entrepreneurship Center that offers a minor in Social Entrepreneurship in either the Department of Business or Entrepreneurship or in several other academic specialties. Service Learning and Social Entrepreneurship are combined in the Center and reinforced by strategic partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and World Hunger Foundation. Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester has an Institute for Social Entrepreneurship which is a collaboration involving the Division of Business Administration & Management and the Division of Social Work & Social Science. This institute utilizes paid student interns to work with community agencies, the schools and small businesses to boost their entrepreneurial capacities.


i. Technical Assistance to Community Nonprofit Organizations
ii. Assistance to Secondary Schools and Youth Organizations on Developing Youth   Entrepreneurship Programs
iii. Discounted Consultation to Socially Responsible Businesses and Disadvantaged Small Business Entrepreneurs
iv. Develop Working Relationships with Community Nonprofit Organizations to Promote Social Entrepreneurship
v. Develop Social Entrepreneurship Peer Support Network/ Forum
1. Information Exchange on SE
2. Brokerage of Nonprofit Collaborations and Ventures
3. Development of Relationships/Collaborations Between Nonprofit Organizations and  Socially Responsible Business Entrepreneurs
4. Development of Relationships with Venture Philanthropists
vi. Develop, In Partnership, Annual Social Venture Fair(s)
vii. Develop Curricula for Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship and Additional Coursework for Training Social Entrepreneurs
i. Center Director – Attributes
1. Entrepreneur
2. Teaching Experience
3. Partnership Building Experience
4. Ability to Provide/Create “Bridging Social Capital”
ii. Center Director – Responsibilities
1. Teaching
2. Fundraising/Public Relations
3. Mentoring of Students and Nonprofit Organization Staff
4. Developing Sustainability Plan for Center
5. Developing Increasingly Rich Contacts with other Departments Within the College-University
6. Developing Relationships with Other Colleges Around Social Entrepreneurship (College SE Network)
7. Developing Locally Based Social Enterprise Initiatives with Foundations, Governments, and Other Funding Partners
iii. Assistant Director
1. Half-time Position, College Faculty Member with Expertise in Research Evaluation and Curriculum Development
iv. Student Interns
1. Work with Nonprofit Organizations and Volunteers and Socially Responsible Businesses on Business Planning
2. Work with Directors and Volunteers on Youth Entrepreneurship Curriculum Development and Training
v. Volunteer Coaches
1. Work with Student Interns on Business Planning and Mentoring
2. Are Recruited Through Local Chambers of Commerce, Social Venture Partners, Rotary and other Business Organizations, Young Entrepreneurs Organization, World Entrepreneurs Organization, Business For Social Responsibility, and Net Impact
i. Advancement of the Field of Social Entrepreneurship in Academia
1. Research and Evaluation
a. Research on Social Return on Investment
i. Impacts Of Client Earned Income On Service Components Of Entrepreneurial Social Service Nonprofits
ii. Impacts of Client Earnings on Community Support Network
b. Research on Venture Philanthropy
i. Impacts of Multi-Year Support and Hands On Assistance on Nonprofit Organization Sustainability
c. Research On Impacts of Social Enterprises (Particularly Affirmative/Supported  Employment Enterprises) on Welfare and Other Community Support Systems for Disadvantaged Populations
d. Research on Youth Entrepreneurship Efficacy
i. Impacts on Social Justice System
ii. Impacts on Family Income/Local Economy
iii. Impacts on School Performance
e. Pass-through Grant Funds for Research
f. Pass-through Grant Funds for Experiments in Teaching and Outreach
2. Training
a. Nonprofit Executives
b. Degree and Certificate Programs
3. Consulting
ii. Develop Youth Entrepreneurship Efforts
iii. Assist Nonprofit Organizations with Capacity Building and Organizational Sustainability
iv. Assist Socially Responsible and/or Community Oriented Small Businesses with Entrepreneurial Strategies for Sustainability and Increased Competitiveness
v. Develop Social Venture Fairs and Venture Philanthropy Programs.
vi. Work with Foundations (e.g., Ashoka) to Develop Case Studies of Funded Social Entrepreneurs.
ii. Development of Integrative Community Based Strategy for Entrepreneurial Community Development
1. Strengthen community nonprofit charitable agencies.
2. Enable small businesses to find more secure market niches in face of increased outside competition
3. Lay the foundation for future strong local small businesses through youth entrepreneurship training
4. Strengthen the local economy through all the above integrative measures
    (M. Pomerantz)