Skip to Content
Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.

Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Social Entrepreneurship

Search Resources:

Research Resources


[photo - Palace of Congress in Buenos Aires]

How Fundación RAP builds bridges across party lines.

Resource: News Article

Being an innovator is never easy. But tackling the needs of underserved patients and healthcare providers in developing countries can be especially difficult. The idiosyncrasies of the healthcare sector, the contextual barriers found in resource-constrained environments, and the already-difficult-to-implement innovation process, make entrepreneurship in global health time consuming, expensive, and risky. 

Resource: News Article
[photo - Pooja Sankar]

An entrepreneur launches the Piazza social learning website to reduce students’ isolation.

Resource: News Article
[photo - CODE2040]

Just one in 14 tech employees in Silicon Valley is black or Latino. Code2040 is working to change that.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Beth Gerstein]

The cofounder of online jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth explains how she built her business. 

Resource: News Article
[photo - Palace of Congress in Buenos Aires]

How Fundación RAP builds bridges across party lines.

Resource: News Article

Being an innovator is never easy. But tackling the needs of underserved patients and healthcare providers in developing countries can be especially difficult. The idiosyncrasies of the healthcare sector, the contextual barriers found in resource-constrained environments, and the already-difficult-to-implement innovation process, make entrepreneurship in global health time consuming, expensive, and risky. 

Resource: News Article
[photo - Pooja Sankar]

An entrepreneur launches the Piazza social learning website to reduce students’ isolation.

Resource: News Article
[photo - CODE2040]

Just one in 14 tech employees in Silicon Valley is black or Latino. Code2040 is working to change that.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Beth Gerstein]

The cofounder of online jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth explains how she built her business. 

Resource: News Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Summer 2011

The owner of the only certified B Corporation in Kentucky assesses the pros and cons of the certification.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Summer 2011

The founder of the Kashf Foundation argues that microfinance can improve the lives of Pakistan’s next generation.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Spring 2011

Unless clean tech follows well-established rules of innovation and commercialization, the industry’s promise to provide sustainable sources of energy will fail.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Spring 2011

Venture into a Panera Cares café and you’ll see the same menu and racks of freshly baked breads that are staples at the 1,400 Panera Bread restaurants across the United States. The only thing missing is the cash register. Instead, there’s a donation box where customers pay on the honor system.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Spring 2011

A veteran social entrepreneur provides a guide to those who are thinking through the thorny question of whether to create a nonprofit, a for-profit, or something in between.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article

The author reviews Jacqueline Novogratz’s book “The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World” and draws insight from the book’s in depth presentation of social enterprise. 

Resource: Blog Post

The movement to provide capital to social enterprises is gaining momentum.

Resource: Blog Post

Social entrepreneurism should focus less on charismatic personalities, and more on ideas that work.

Resource: Blog Post

Nonprofits need to be less risk averse.

Resource: Blog Post

Kiva, the world’s first person-to-person microlending Web site, has facilitated nearly $40 million in loans to entrepreneurs worldwide.

Resource: Blog Post
Video/Audio : All | Audio | Video
[photo - Willa Seldon]

How do we prevent collaboration from sweeping through nonprofits as a passing fad? In this discussion panel at the Nonprofit Management Institute, Willa Seldon talks with experts Carolyn Nelson and Stephanie Couch on how to avoid wasting time and effort by effectively evaluating goals and necessities before collaborating.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Julie Dixon]

Personal connections and influence can be crucial in garnering support for an organization’s cause. In this audio lecture, Julie Dixon of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication describes how organizations can leverage supporters’ talent, resources, and participation through meaningful engagement. She suggests that organizations craft opportunities and social media policies that allow people to support a cause in the best way they can.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Marina Gorbis]

Modern technology empowers individuals to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. In this audio lecture, Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future, discusses “socialstructing” — generating small contributions from each person in a wide network to accomplish large tasks, such as the creation of a global collection of crime-related data. Gorbis describes socialstructing as an alternative to some types of formal organizations in the future.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Daniel Spitzer]

Operating a successful social enterprise requires providing meaningful economic value to people. In this audio lecture, Daniel Spitzer, founder of Mountain Hazelnuts, describes his experience creating supply chain value to develop a hazelnut farming social enterprise in Bhutan. Spitzer details how he enhances supply chains through corporate citizenship, and leverages data captured from Android phones. Spitzer describes why there is nothing is more important than people in operating a profitable business through corporate social responsibility.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Dara O'Rourke]

Social innovations in the supply chain have the potential for making an impact on a large scale. In this panel discussion, experts describe innovations that are benefiting society and delivering economic value, including responsible e-waste recycling efforts that generate revenue, innovative methods to end child labor in the carpet industry, and more.

Resource: Audio
[Video-Innovative Design Saves Tiny Lives]

Jane Chen, MBA '08, has a vision of a place “babies no longer die from being cold, where people no longer die from preventable causes. And where every person has the ability to choose [his or her] own fate.”

Resource: Video
[Video-Gaming for the Greater Good]

What if games were used to solve real-world problems?

Resource: Video
[Video-Design for the Ripple Effect: How a Small Act Leads to Big Change]

How can we design for the ripple effect so that small acts of goodness trigger big ones? 

Resource: Video
[Video-Social Entrepreneurship]

Missions of social impact and profit do not need to be opposed, say social entrepreneurs. In fact, bringing the two together in a double bottom line can create dynamic new opportunities.

Resource: Video
[Video-New Biodesign Book Tackles Innovation: Prof. Stefanos Zenios]

Q&A with Stefano Zenios on his new book, Biodesign: The Process of Innovating Medical Technologies.

Resource: Video
[photo - Hallie Preskill]

Three evolving approaches to evaluation could change how it is used in social enterprise. In this audio lecture, Hallie Preskill, FSG managing director, opens the 2013 Next Generation Evaluation conference with examples of how leading social sector organizations are thinking about and applying evaluation. Preskill discusses in detail three new approaches to evaluation: developmental evaluation, shared measurement, and big data. She explains the trends and identifies how evaluation must evolve to optimize social enterprise efforts.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Brenda Zimmerman]

Embracing complexity is essential in social enterprise evaluation. In this audio lecture, Brenda Zimmerman, Associate Professor of Policy at York University’s Schulich School of Business, suggests approaches for addressing complexity in evaluation systems. In the closing keynote at the 2013 Next Generation Evaluation Conference, Zimmerman explores ways to embrace complexity in social sector evaluation practice. She describes how social innovation can be fostered by applying cognitive diversity to solve structural and causative complexity problems.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Jacob Lief]

By a simple twist of fate, Jacob Leif found himself in post-apartheid South Africa, staring at a big paradoxical break in philanthropy - success was measured in numbers instead of long-term impact. While working at a local school, he found that supplies of books, computers, and daily lunches for the school children were plentiful. However, once the supporting nonprofit left after the funding cycle finished, the school returned right back to where it started. Lief decided to found Ubuntu Education Fund, an organization that works to support children living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In this episode of The Social Disruptors, Ned Breslin and Jacob Lief discuss the struggles of funding for long-term sustainable impact within the current philanthropic system of 12-month grant cycles.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Willa Seldon]

How do we prevent collaboration from sweeping through nonprofits as a passing fad? In this discussion panel at the Nonprofit Management Institute, Willa Seldon talks with experts Carolyn Nelson and Stephanie Couch on how to avoid wasting time and effort by effectively evaluating goals and necessities before collaborating.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Julie Dixon]

Personal connections and influence can be crucial in garnering support for an organization’s cause. In this audio lecture, Julie Dixon of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication describes how organizations can leverage supporters’ talent, resources, and participation through meaningful engagement. She suggests that organizations craft opportunities and social media policies that allow people to support a cause in the best way they can.

Resource: Audio
Case Studies : All | Academic Cases
No Results Found
[photo - Mulago II]

The Mulago Foundation is a private foundation focused on the prospect of creating a better life for the world's poor. Concentrated in rural settings in developing countries, the foundation's work is in four areas that contribute to this overarching goal. The Foundation explicitly seeks to get involved with early-stage entities in these targeted areas so that it can grow with the organizations it supports. However, one challenge of getting involved with early-stage enterprises is that they sometimes focus too narrowly on the product rather than the capacity of management and development. This case study explores how Mulago Foundation evaluates prospective investments and the factors it considers before coming funds to projects and organizations.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Mulago Foundation]

The Mulago Foundation is a private foundation focused on the prospect of creating a better life for the world's poor. The Mulago team looks for investment opportunities in promising products and services that address these high-priority problems. In evaluating potential investments, the Mulago Foundation has observed how many global health innovators grapple with the choice between establishing their organizations as nonprofit or for-profit entities. This case studies Mulago Foundation's experience in the global health field and raises issues that innovators should consider as they evaluate their legal and capital structure. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - PSI]

Population Services International (PSI) was founded in 1970 as a nonprofit organization focused on improving reproductive health in developing countries using commercial marketing strategies. Over the years, PSI broadened its mission to address family planning, child and maternal health, and HIV and AIDS prevention, screening, and treatment.  PSI opened an office in Lesotho and in 2010, a donor provided PSI/Lesotho with “a warehouse full” of female condoms (FCs) that the organization could use to help young women in the area protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. The challenge for the team was to figure out how to effectively distribute and promote the FCs since early versions of the female condom were notoriously unpopular.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Inspire]

Globally, pneumonia kills more children than any other illness. In developed countries, pneumonia and other acute respiratory conditions are treated via mechanical ventilators. In resource-constrained settings, however, ventilators are often not available because of their high cost. An approach has been used successfully, although not considered standard of care, is bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAPs are low-cost and effective, but require oxygen tanks, which are expensive to transport to rural regions. in 2011, a team of Stanford students set out to design a  machine that would create the pressurized air of bubble CPAP without the cost, burden, and safety concerns with using oxygen tanks. This case explores the factors that the Inspire team members evaluated in deciding whether or not to take their prototype into development. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Respira]

To Help Address the burden of childhood asthma in developing countries, Respira Design created an asthma spacer that was produced from a single sheet of paper. The device could ship and store flat and then be transformed into a usable spacer through a series of cuts and folds. However, as a medical device, it was necessary to test the extent to which it impacted the delivery of medication and how many uses each spacer could sustain. The team also needed to study the circumstances in which the device would perform successfully. This case examines how Respira address these issues.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - AdaptAir]

In resource constrained settings, bubble CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is emerging as a more affordable treatment option for children with acute respiratory infections. However, some healthcare providers cannot ensure a tight seal between the infant's nose and mask which compromises the effectiveness of this approach. AdaptAir team developed a silicone adapter as a potential low-cost alternative. Despite the new product, AdaptAir encountered challenges when attempting to commercialize the device in the market. This case explores the challenges AdaptAir faced in determining its next steps and the lessons the teams learned about creating an accessory versus a stand-alone product.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Consure Medical I]

After watching a colleague struggle with the care of his mother when she was affected by fecal incontinence, the Consure Medical team began investigating this problem as a potential need to address. Even though the team had a broad concept of the need it would address, they soon realized it would require more research to make the need actionable. This case study looks at how the Consure team determined which market to address and how challenges in design requirements to aid product development. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Consure Medical II]

Consure Medical is committed to developing a solution that involves the problems inherent in existing fecal incontinence treatments yet is simple enough for a motivated family member to use. With guidance from top doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the team developed an indwelling device similar to a short-term implant that offered multiple advantages over available treatment options. With a working product in hand, the cofounders’ next challenge was to determine a testing strategy that would validate the safety and efficacy of the device and support the company’s regulatory strategy. This mini-case study looks at the factors Consure Medical considered in defining a plan, as well as the approach the company ultimately defined.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - PSI]

Population Services International (PSI) was founded in 1970 as a nonprofit organization focused on improving reproductive health in developing countries using commercial marketing strategies. As part of ongoing efforts to provide critical health services in developing countries, PSI sought to address the high unmet demand for family planning in Pakistan. PSI learned that the financial incentives were low and that few providers actually had the training to counsel clients. The case study describes how PSI devised and implemented a social franchising model to rapidly address these needs and achieve scale in the target communities.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - LifeStraw]

Vestergaard Frandsen (VF) is a for-profit company that operates under a humanitarian entrepreneurship business model. The company’s leading products include PermaNet long-lasting insecticidal nets and LifeStraw water filters. VF was convinced that its LifeStraw Family product could make an immediate and significant difference in addressing the safe water needs of households in developing countries. The challenge was how to make it affordable for its target audience. While VF considered its options, CEO Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen decided to launch an integrated campaign to help prevent the spread of malaria, diarrheal disease, and HIV in Western Kenya.Witnessing the success of the program, the Kenyan government asked VF to scale it up across the Western Province. However, identifying traditional forms of funding for point-of-use water filters at scale remained a challenge.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - PATH]

In late 2006, the PATH Safe Water Project received a $17 million grant form the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its purpose was to evaluate how market-based approaches could help accelerate the widespread adoption and sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) products among the world's poor. One key factor to consider in constructing its pilot studies was the affordability of HWTS products. This case study describes PATH's efforts to use consumer financing as a mechanism for making HWTS produce and supplies more accessible to its target market. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - CycleBeads]

To help address the issue of unplanned pregnancy and maternal mortality in the developing world, researches at the University of Georgetown's Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) recognized the need for a intuitive, natural contraception method that could meet the needs of families that chose not to use medical or surgical alternatives. IRH developed the Standard Days Method (SDM), a family planning system, and CycleBeads. Despite some reservations related to traditional values, IRH seized the opportunity to roll out sDM and CycleBeads in Mali, West Africa. Unfortunately, the initial launch did not go well and had trouble establishing effective delivery and support for the product. This case looks at how IRH adapted its approach to facilitate more effective implementation of CycleBeads across Mali. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - d.light]

d.light design is a for-profit social enterprise whose purpose is to create new freedoms for customers without access to reliable power so they can enjoy a brighter future. When members of d.light moved to India to set up distribution of their product, the team quickly discovered would not be as easy as they hoped. They discovered it would be difficult to convince consumers to invest in a d.light product as the market was saturated with low-quality, solar-based lighting products. Distribution posed another challenge. This mini-case study evaluates the strategy d.light adopted to differentiate the company and establish its products as credible and trustworthy to earn the acceptance of consumers and distributors. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Phoenix]

Phoenix Medical Systems was founded to manufacture an incubator designed specifically to address the needs of low-resource healthcare providers in India. When leaders from a multinational medical equipment company approached Phoenix about a licensing deal, its founder was enthusiastic about expanding the reach of the organization. Phoenix entered into a two-year contract that allowed the multinational to use its established distribution channels to sell all of the products in the Phoenix portfolio, under the Phoenix brand name, exclusively in the Indian market. Although the partnership showed great promise, unfortunately it did not turn out to be as fruitful as initially hoped. This mini-case study describes some of the challenges Phoenix faced with its new partner and how the company responded.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Mulago Foundation]

The Mulago Foundation is a private foundation focused on the prospect of creating a better life for the world's poor. When it comes to making investments, one of the most important aspects of the Mulago approach is the ability of the organization to have a measurable impact. Mulago needed to develop an approach to the measurement of impact that was simple enough for an early-state, resource-constrained, organization to carry out. This mini-case study describes the five-step framework that the Foundation developed.

Resource: Academic Case
Research Papers : All
[photo -  J. Gregory Dees]

This seminal paper defines the term social entrepreneurship and helps shape, what was in 1998, the nascent field of social entrepreneurship.

Resource: Research Paper
Courses : All
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This course examines health care businesses and how they use technology (primarily biotechnology, medical technology, and information technology) to improve patient outcomes and manage costs. Through case studies, students gain an in-depth understanding of how new technologies get developed and commercialized in health care, and of how the whole health care value chain adapts to new technologies.

Resource: MBA Course
Innovators : All
[photo - Jacqueline Novogratz]

In turbulent times like ours, we need “hard-edged hope,” says Jacqueline Novogratz, the much-celebrated founder of the Acumen Fund. Affirming that the world is indeed a better place now than it was 40 years ago, she traces her own journey from a childhood witnessing racial inequities all around her in Detroit to a career leading the field of social impact investing.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Lee Zimmerman]

As co-owners of Evergreen Lodge in Yosemite, a social enterprise that combines environmental stewardship and socially-minded employment strategies, Lee Zimmerman and Brian Anderluh discuss keys and barriers to success, potential for scale, and opportunities for the future.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - photo - Hope Flammer]

Hope Flammer (MBA '91) and VoiceQuilt help families celebrate loved ones with voice-based toasts, tributes and favorite memories.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Leena Ved]

Leena Ved provides high quality educational opportunities for under-served children, and addresses the financing gap in impact investing by supporting early stage companies.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Dana Hendrickson]

Through Rebuild Hope, Dana Hendrickson and others help wounded veterans and their families overcome short-term financial obstacles.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Hallie Preskill]

Three evolving approaches to evaluation could change how it is used in social enterprise. In this audio lecture, Hallie Preskill, FSG managing director, opens the 2013 Next Generation Evaluation conference with examples of how leading social sector organizations are thinking about and applying evaluation. Preskill discusses in detail three new approaches to evaluation: developmental evaluation, shared measurement, and big data. She explains the trends and identifies how evaluation must evolve to optimize social enterprise efforts.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Lisbeth Schorr]

Effective evaluation is about more than measuring impact—it’s about figuring out what works and why. In this panel discussion at the Next Generation Evaluation conference, Lisbeth Schorr, Fay Twersky, and Alicia Grunow discuss the implications of evaluative techniques such as shared measurement, big data, and improvement science for philanthropy and nonprofit management.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Brenda Zimmerman]

Embracing complexity is essential in social enterprise evaluation. In this audio lecture, Brenda Zimmerman, Associate Professor of Policy at York University’s Schulich School of Business, suggests approaches for addressing complexity in evaluation systems. In the closing keynote at the 2013 Next Generation Evaluation Conference, Zimmerman explores ways to embrace complexity in social sector evaluation practice. She describes how social innovation can be fostered by applying cognitive diversity to solve structural and causative complexity problems.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Jacob Lief]

By a simple twist of fate, Jacob Leif found himself in post-apartheid South Africa, staring at a big paradoxical break in philanthropy - success was measured in numbers instead of long-term impact. While working at a local school, he found that supplies of books, computers, and daily lunches for the school children were plentiful. However, once the supporting nonprofit left after the funding cycle finished, the school returned right back to where it started. Lief decided to found Ubuntu Education Fund, an organization that works to support children living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In this episode of The Social Disruptors, Ned Breslin and Jacob Lief discuss the struggles of funding for long-term sustainable impact within the current philanthropic system of 12-month grant cycles.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Willa Seldon]

How do we prevent collaboration from sweeping through nonprofits as a passing fad? In this discussion panel at the Nonprofit Management Institute, Willa Seldon talks with experts Carolyn Nelson and Stephanie Couch on how to avoid wasting time and effort by effectively evaluating goals and necessities before collaborating.

Resource: Audio
Corner