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Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Social Entrepreneurship

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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

A new project is building a toolkit to enable nonprofits to use social media strategies effectively.

Resource: Blog Post
[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

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
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 - Rob Day]

As the market demands more products and services that address social and environmental issues, what are the various challenges faced by green companies in securing capital funding? How will initial investments affect the future success of these companies? Discover how venture capitalists envision the role of capital markets in green companies in this panel discussion from Bridging the Gap, the Stanford 2005 Net Impact conference organized by the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Mal Warwick]

Clear communication is the key to informing and inspiring supporters for any cause. Based on his years of experience helping nonprofits succeed, Mal Warwick shares with his 2007 Nonprofit Boot Camp audience some tried-and-true methods for getting the message across. As emphasized in this audio lecture, good research and some well-chosen words and images can help an organization articulate its vision and sharpen its unique identity in order to excite contributors and let them know their money will be well spent.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Dr. Pamela Hartigan, Jacqueline Novogratz, Bruce McNamer]

From clean water to disease control and global climate change, a new breed of business people is designing sustainable solutions to promote international development and reduce global poverty. Hear from the leaders in this panel discussion about how they are applying business discipline to improve livelihood in many different nations.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Bill Drayton]

An entrepreneur combines the vision to see the next thing over the horizon with the restless energy and problem-solving skills needed to set that change in motion. These qualities are shared by business and social entrepreneurs alike, representing a positive force that can help address the world's toughest problems. In this audio lecture, Bill Drayton takes a thoughtful look at Ashoka's mission and highlights its programs designed to nurture the current and future generations of talented entrepreneurs making a difference all over the world.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Cherie Evans ]
Along with clear tax benefits, starting a nonprofit means forms to file, rules to follow, and records to keep. How do you obtain public charity status? What are the pros and cons? Are there other options? In this audio lecture, corporate tax attorney Cherie Evans provides a step-by-step guide on the legal aspects of setting up and running a charitable organization to her 2007 Nonprofit Boot Camp audience.
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 - funding a cleaner world]

Environmental sustainability is an area ripe for social entrepreneurship. In this panel discussion at Stanford, industry experts discuss the challenges and opportunities for enterprising business minds in the area of climate change. They consider how new economies like China and India are tackling the problem, and whether entrepreneurs should lead with "impact" or "profitability" in pitching solution-oriented ideas to investors.

Resource: Audio
[photo - social entrepreneurs personal pathways]

In this panel discussion, social entrepreneurship is the common thread uniting a leader of a multibillion-dollar private equity fund, a dot-com carbon cowboy, and one of the original Schwab social entrepreneurs. All of them are harnessing business to build a better world. Paul Fletcher, Dan Whaley, and Nic Frances give their Stanford audience a glimpse into the personal side of being a social entrepreneur.

Resource: Audio
[photo - John Sage]

Combining idealism with a genuine love of business, John Sage cofounded the social enterprise company Pura Vida, one of the largest distributors of fair trade organic coffee in the world. In this University podcast, he discusses his mission to improve the lives of people in coffee-growing regions. Sage explains how Pura Vida works at the intersection of the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, showing how the two can be blended to generate both revenues and social good.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Dennis Macray]

Starbucks has taken environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility seriously in its work with coffee farmers. In this audio lecture, Dennis Macray discusses how the United States' leading coffee retailer is reshaping its business practices and reinventing the international coffee trade.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Paul Lamb]

Nonprofit management now requires the innovative use of information technology. In this Stanford podcast, nonprofit technology consultant Paul Lamb explores how the web is transforming nonprofits and NGOs. He looks ahead to the potential that ubiquitous mobile computing, virtual worlds, user-generated content, and social networking have to upend traditional constraints and to open new doors.

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: 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: Summer 2011

A look at what’s needed next to create the right policy environment for innovation and results.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review 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
[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
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
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