This semester I am, fortunately, only taking one course. With the new biz growing and lots of research for my PhD to be done with Zoltan Acs, it is nice to lighten the load.
I am taking a great new class with Phil Auerswald called simply, Social Entrepreneurship. Like most classes in Mason’s School of Public Policy, there is a great diversity of students (by areas of interest, age, nationality, etc.) and it highlights the great pull that the idea of social entrepreneurship has to many people. (the notion of creating self-sustaining entities that provide social value)
Our first week was spent discussing the concept of social value and how it compares to producer and consumer value. (Phil is an economist by training) We discussed some interesting cases of social entrepreneurs and commercial entrepreneurs and wondered whether social entrepreneurs can/will ever have the impact that commercial entrepreneurs do have.
Obviously, this debate is not really important as different times, places, and societies will need the social value created by both types of entrepreneurs. Moreover, there may be places where only social entrepreneurs can tread. A great case to familiarize yourself with that of Aravind Eye Hospitals in India. This social venture was created after an Indian eye doc retired in 1976. It has cured blindness in over 2 million poor Indians since then!
I will share more thoughts and learnings on social entrepreneurship as we go forward, but my gut is that this activity has gone on forever, however something in our global socio-economic system (including the massive wealth created in the Western Democracies) has made these types of activities more the norm. (check out How to Change the World by David Bornstein to learn more about the growth of this sector).
Also, Phil shared a link via email about the 5th Annual Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition run out of the University of Washington Foster School of Business. Check it out. Deadline to apply is November 12, 2008.