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Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Social Entrepreneurship

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First Social Enterprise World forum talks about how to use business to accomplish social outcomes.

Resource: Blog Post

Strategies for following one’s social enterprise bliss.

Resource: Blog Post
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2008

MBA students turn their attention to social enterprise.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2008

THE SOUL OF A NEW MACHINE by Tracy Kidder  Review by David Bornstein

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2008

Social entrepreneurship and social enterprise have become popular rallying points for those trying to improve the world. These two notions are positive ones, but neither is adequate when it comes to understanding and creating social change in all of its manifestations. The authors make the case that social innovation is a better vehicle for doing this. They also explain why most of today’s innovative social solutions cut across the traditional boundaries separating nonprofits, government, and for-profit businesses.    —By James A. Phills Jr., Kriss Deiglmeier, & Dale T. Miller

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
[photo - Jake Harriman]

Jake Harriman,'08, explains how rejecting conventional wisdom about financing a nonprofit helped him turn his vision into a real intervention.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Sarah Soule]

A Stanford scholar discusses a collaborative, human-centered approach to solving some of the world's most pressing problems.

Resource: News Article
[photo - crowdfunding]

A group of economists turns to an unusual source for funding: strangers.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Vivek Garg]

An Indian army vet builds business relationships across battle lines in conflict-torn Kashmir and Northeast Indian villages.

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

How Fundación RAP builds bridges across party lines.

Resource: News Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2006

Socially responsible brands that merge with multinationals may be abandoning their principles. By Dara O'Rourke

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2006

Larger social service organizations may result in less innovation.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2006

How the Union Bank of California attracts lower-income people to traditional banking. By Laura Beaudin

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2006

Social entrepreneurship has come to be synonymous with the individual visionary – the risk taker who goes against the tide to start a new organization to create dramatic social change. The problem with focusing so much attention on the individual entrepreneur is that it neglects to recognize and support thousands of other individuals, groups, and organizations that are crafting solutions to troubles around the globe. By Paul C. Light

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Summer 2006

Jim Collins outlines how lessons for becoming the best can translate from companies to social organizations.  Review by Robert Gertner

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article

The long-term strength of our nation relies on the level of commitment we have toward innovation. Influx of talent, new mindset and new network technologies are the new convergence of innovation. President Obama must broaden the focus across and among the private, public, and nonprofit sectors—to seek and spark the most promising innovations whether they come from commercial or social entrepreneurs, executives or line workers, community leaders, public servants, researchers, or citizens who don’t fit into any of these categories.

Resource: Blog Post

The White House is about to announce the creation of the Office of Social Innovation. 

Resource: Blog Post

This blog is the last of Marcia Stepanek’s coverage of the Skoll World Forum 2009 at Oxford University.

Resource: Blog Post

Reporting from the 6th annual Skoll World Forum for social innovation

Resource: Blog Post

“There’s no question: with public trust in CEOs and corporations at rock-bottom and the change mantra out of Washington [and Davos] and this week’s TED2009 still freshly potent, cause-wired social entrepreneurs have never had a better opportunity to boost traction globally for their Web-powered ideas.” - the author

Resource: Blog Post
Video/Audio : All | Audio | Video
[photo - Mark Freedman]

Social entrepreneurship is now a path for many in the second half of life, proving that retirement can be a time of creativity, invention, and contribution, not decline. In this audio lecture, social innovator Marc Freedman discusses the huge untapped resource in potential retirees who are finding new ways to use their experience to tackle important social problems. Freedman shares the story of the creation of The Purpose Prize, a three-year initiative to invest in these new pioneers.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Gary Hirshberg]

Can businesses deliver strong returns to shareholders while also promoting the health of people and the planet? In this audio lecture recorded at Bridging the Gap, the 2005 Stanford Net Impact conference, Gary Hirshberg, the phenomenally successful pioneer of the organic foods industry, utters a resounding yes.

Resource: Audio
[photo - William McDonough]

When it comes to environmental sustainability, William McDonough is nothing less than a hero for the planet. In this audio lecture, he discusses how he has designed eco-friendly buildings with unique properties, such as the ability to produce oxygen. He urges his audience of Stanford Graduate School of Business students to set goals not toward an efficient bottom line of doing the wrong thing less badly, but rather toward the effective top line of doing the right thing.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Adam Lowry, William Rosenzweig, Priya Haji]

Have you ever thought about launching your own social venture? Are you curious if you have what it takes to become a social entrepreneur? What funding sources are available to you? What are the challenges of running a social venture? This panel discussion brings together people from both sides of the "start-up" fence--those who started with large financial backing and those who had none.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Chris Eyre]

Three social-venture experts share the process and tools they use to evaluate the impact and viability of aspiring change-makers' ideas in this panel discussion from Bridging the Gap, the Stanford 2005 Net Impact Conference organized by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. A must-hear for anyone planning on starting a social or environmental enterprise.

Resource: Audio
[Video-Hau Lee: Value Chain Innovation in Developing Economies]

Hau Lee explains how value chain innovations can help entrepreneurs in developing economies grow their businesses, and what multinational corporations can learn from them.

Resource: Video
[Video-Using Entrepreneurial Approaches to Solve the Problems of Global Poverty]

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. Novogratz rallies the community of Stanford business graduates to be part of the new generation of innovative problem solvers.

Resource: Video
[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
[photo - Helmut Anheier]

As the boundary between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds continues to blur, how may philanthropy evolve to assist social change? In this panel discussion, academics and practitioners consider how public -- and private -- sector support may be combined in new ways in the future to fund progressive domestic and global social enterprises.

Resource: Audio
[photo - John Elkington, Bill Drayton, Ed Miliband]
How do we foster more social enterprise and innovation? In this panel discussion, panelists John Elkington, Bill Drayton, and Ed Milibrand consider the question. They explore what's needed on the local, regional, national, and international levels, and acknowledge the role that governments and entrepreneurs play in improving the social landscape.
Resource: Audio
[photo - Bill Drayton]

"Once in a very rare while in history there is a fundamental pattern change. We're in one of those right now," says Bill Drayton in this audio lecture. Before our eyes the social sector is transforming to adopt the business sector's entrepreneurial architecture, where productivity and innovation are absolutely essential. Drayton explains how he sees the merging of pieces from both worlds as the way social entrepreneurs will flourish.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Bill Drayton]

Ashoka's founder, Bill Drayton, believes that everyone can be a changemaker. In this audio lecture, he reflects on many of the early influences that helped him understand how to advance true social progress. From these beginnings, he traces his own path in public service, and describes the founding of Ashoka, which has grown into a flourishing network of social entrepreneurs who can serve as role models for further progress in promoting social justice around the globe.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Muhammad Yunus]

Microfinance, the extension of small loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans, has proved to be an effective strategy for raising millions of families from poverty worldwide. Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the microloan revolution in Bangladesh, explains in this audio lecture how he saw rural poor and women struggle against deeply institutionalized economic systems, and realized the massive change that small loans could provide.

Resource: Audio
Case Studies : All | Academic Cases
No Results Found

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the team’s primary objectives was to investigate sales and distribution challenges in this space. By conducting a portfolio of field-based pilots, the team hoped to test different models for improving customer access to these safe water products in an effort to identify scalable, sustainable, and replicable solutions. Although specific results varied across the pilots, which spanned India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kenya, they collectively gave rise to series of important sales and distribution insights.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project. One of the key objectives of this effort was to explore how the private sector could help make HWTS products more affordable. By conducting a portfolio of field-based pilots in collaboration with commercial partners, the PATH team sought to better understand the effect of different pricing, consumer financing, and subsidy models on demand within low-income population in developing countries. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The purpose of the grant was to evaluate to what extent market-based approaches could help accelerate the widespread adoption and sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage products by low-income populations.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Laura Arrillaga]

Arrillaga created Silicon Valley Social Venture ("SV2") in partnership with Community Foundation Silicon Valley (“CFSV”), a nationally recognized public foundation that had experience working with individual donors and had established credibility within the philanthropic field. Arrillaga formed SV2 as a donor-advised fund to ensure that CFSV staff would help guide SV2 partners leverage their expertise and funding to select high-performing community organizations, thus generating the greatest social impact. 

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

Mark Alsentzer, an investor in Earth Care, took over leadership of the business when it got into trouble in 1996. He focused on a two-pronged strategy to invest in research to speed up the manufacturing process to turn plastic into lumber, and to increase product recognition.

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 - Jennifer Aaker]

The goal of this seminar is to investigate how social technology (e.g., blogs, websites, podcasts, widgets, community groups, social network feeds) can change attitudes and behaviors in ways that cultivate social change. We study the strategies and tactics used by companies and causes that have successfully catalyzed social persuasion.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Rick Aubry]

This course focuses on the efforts of private citizens to create effective responses to social needs and innovative solutions to social problems. It equips students with frameworks and tools that will help them be more effective as a social entrepreneur.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Jane Wei]

This course explores the challenges and opportunities related to social entrepreneurship. Students study nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid organizational forms, and examine issues from a variety of perspectives, including that of entrepreneur, CEO, funder, and board member.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Jim Patell]

Students apply engineering and business skills to design product prototypes, distribution systems, and business plans for entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries. The aim is to address challenges faced by the world's poor.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Debra Meyerson]

This course is designed to help students understand and manage human systems, exercise leadership, and work effectively with other people, specifically within the context of culturally diverse groups and organizations. The underlying premise is that diversity can present unique challenges and opportunities.

Resource: MBA Course
Innovators : All
[photo - Farm to Cup - Root Capital Lending]

A grassroots student effort led by Caroline Mullen, MBA ’12, Catha Mullen, MBA ’13, and Monica Lewis, MBA ’12, now has even more impact through a merger with Pachamama Coffee Cooperative.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - BAPAR]

It was the suicide of a young man that turned Vivek Garg toward using business as a means of fostering peace and reconciliation.

Resource: Student
[photo - Jeff Skoll]

The March/April edition of Stanford magazine features a profile of alumnus Jeff Skoll, one of only 20 people who've ever given away $1 billion. He hopes to engage everyone in the planet's survival by leveraging the power of Hollywood.

 

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Yohei Iwasaki (MBA '10)]

Yohei Iwasaki and mOasis are enabling farmers to grow more crops from less water and to cultivate previously underutilized land, producing a sustainable environment that significantly reduces food and water shortages.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Jane Chen (MBA '08)]

Jane Chen's passion for helping others has taken her on an incredible journey from doing social work in China to founding Embrace, a company that sells premature infant incubators.

Resource: Alumni
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

The moral legitimacy of a new market can come as much from how you sell something as from exactly what you’re selling.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article

Of the twenty million premature or underweight babies born every year, four million will die in their first month of life. In this audio lecture from the 2011 Women in Management banquet at Stanford, Jane Chen discusses her recent efforts to change these numbers, and the personal journey that took her there. Chen is the co-founder and CEO of Embrace, a nonprofit company that has developed a new low-cost, portable incubator for use in India and other parts of the developing world.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Photo: Bill Drayton]
Keeping social entrepreneurship strong means mentoring our youth, says Bill Drayton in this university podcast. The founder of Ashoka, the world's oldest support organization for social entrepreneurs, Drayton discusses how children are an important focus for the organization's current roster of emerging social enterprise all-stars. Identifying key leadership qualities and how to nurture them, he also rallies an audience of Stanford business school MBAs to become changemakers.
Resource: Audio

World demand for water is likely to continue to outpace population. In this panel discussion, experts talk about how this troubling environmental sustainability issue offers a rare opportunity for cleantech entrepreneurs. Our search for sustainable water offers lessons that may help others facing similar large-scale challenges such as world demand for energy. The event was part of the MIT-Stanford Venture Lab Series.

Resource: Audio

Jane Chen, MBA '08, is co-founder and CEO of Embrace, a nonprofit company dedicated to creating low-cost portable incubators to save the lives of low birthweight babies in developing countries. The Embrace infant warmer was launched in India in the spring of 2011 she told the annual Women in Management banquet at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Resource: News Article
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