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

Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Social Entrepreneurship

Search Resources:

Research Resources


Stanford Social Innovation Review: Spring 2011

Several social enterprises are attempting to provide eyeglasses to the 500 million to 1 billion poor people in the world who need them. Some enterprises see the provision of trained optometrists as the key to solving the problem; others are focused on cost reduction; others still are focused on technological innovations. Why haven’t any of these approaches succeeded on a large scale?

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

Sambazon’s commitment to social entrepreneurship creates a fair market for farmers in the Amazon

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

DRIVING SOCIAL CHANGE: How to Solve the World’s Toughest Problems by Paul C. Light

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

Impact Investors at Toniic aim to create an ecosystem for impact investing that mirrors the Silicon Valley way of doing deals. They know relationships are the key to keeping money moving.

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

Social network and professional network combined: a low-income neighborhood works together to meet the needs of the community in an environmentally responsible way.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
[photo - stanford business school conference makes case for socially responsible and environmentally sustainable supply chains]

A conference at the Stanford Graduate School of Business made the business case for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible supply chain networks. The conference gathered executives, academics, NGOs, and government leaders to share best practices and insights. It is one of several new initiatives related to environmental sustainability at the Business School.

Resource: News Article
[photo - James Mwangi]

A student trip to Kenya introduced a Stanford Business School professor to a successful Nairobi bank and led to a case study that links MBA students to the African continent.

Resource: News Article
[photo - infosys leaders discuss how entrepreneurs can alleviate poverty]

Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murty, two of India’s best known executives, share their experiences in leadership and management with current MBA students during a visit to campus as the first Denning Distinguished Fellows in Global Business and the Economy.

Resource: News Article
[photo - John Doerr]

Venture capitalist John Doerr doesn’t believe the world’s population will change its wasteful ways in time to stop global warming, he told an overflow audience at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. But, ever the optimist, he urged MBA students to make it a priority.

Resource: News Article
[photo - good business karma]

Patagonia Inc. founder and owner Yvon Chouinard offered his Stanford audience a slew of counterintuitive business practices that have helped make his apparel company a success.

Resource: News Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Summer 2010

Microlending in leprosy colonies frees residents from poverty, shame, and isolation.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Summer 2010

Play this online game and learn social innovation strategies to solve global crises.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Spring 2010

Over the past decade or so, the term social entrepreneur has become a fashionable way of describing individuals and organizations that, in their attempts at large-scale change, blur the traditional boundaries between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. But let’s not overlook what traditional entrepreneurs contribute to society.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Spring 2010

Designing social enterprises that can succeed on a national scale

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Winter 2010

Development experts have long known that educating girls is one of the surest ways to improve life for everyone in poor countries. Yet the path to school has not been smooth for many girls—especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past 17 years, however, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) has delivered high-quality education to millions of girls across 35 African countries. The secret to FAWE’s scale and impact, say its leaders, is its flexibility.

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 - Picture: Mic]
Technological progress has fostered new opportunities for teaching and learning, inside and outside of the classroom. From Sesame Street to netbooks to social networks, the students of today are using technology in numerous ways to enrich their learning experience and prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow. This panel of educational entrepreneurs from the NewSchools Summit explores the ideas, outcomes, and possibilities that result from technology-enabled solutions that transform a student's approach to learning.
Resource: Audio
[photo - Picture: Mic]

An Inconvenient Truth sparked national attention to global warming, as did the film Food, Inc. to food issues. Now, three new films, including Academy Award winning director David Guggenheim's Waiting for "Superman", focus on education reform, bringing the United State's school system into the hearts and minds of the American public. Panelists involved in these films gather at the 2010 NewSchools Summit, and speak on how these powerful films can inspire action and advocacy from the broader audience.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Picture: Mic]
Educational entrepreneurs have made great strides, but they still have a long way to go. In this panel discussion from the NewSchools Summit 2010 conference, several prominent educational reformers, both local and national, share their wisdom. They discuss the radical change in education in New Orleans post-Katrina, the investment strategy and results of the NewSchools Venture Fund, and why it's important to have a political strategy to match your educational goals.
Resource: Audio
[photo - Picture: Mic]

Closing achievement gaps in public education is one of the most important civil rights issues of the century. In this panel discussion at the NewSchools Summit 2010 conference, education experts consider how activists and entrepreneurs may draw on lessons from the civil rights movement to address this critical social justice concern.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Picture: Jennifer Aaker]

How can you leverage the power of design thinking and psychological research with practical tools and strategies to get your social enterprise off the ground? In this university podcast, sponsored by the Stanford Center for Social Innovation, Stanford Graduate School of Business marketing professor Jennifer Aaker introduces the "dragonfly effect" model to illustrate how technology can be used to support business and social missions.

Resource: Audio
[Video-Leadership in the War Against Extreme Poverty]

Stanford GSB alum ('08) founded Nuru International to maximize local leadership to drive sustainable change.

Resource: Video
[Video-Unleashing Green Chemistry: A Societal Need and Business Opportunity]

A panel on the the importance of mainstreaming and investing in green chemistry for the future of energy and the environment.

Resource: Video
[Video-Jane Chen: Crazy Enough to Change the World?]

Jane Chen (MBA '08) shares her journey to success in tackling one of the world's pressing issues -- low birth rates of premature babies around the world.

Resource: Video
[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
[photo - Picture: Lee]
Though the resources may be adequate in the Philippines, 13 million people do not have access to clean and safe water due to issues of infrastructure. In this audio interview, Stanford Center for Social Innovation correspondent Sheela Sethuraman talks with A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW) Executive Director Kevin Lee, the 2010 Tech Award winner in the Equality category. He shares their social entrepreneurship model prioritizing effective water and sanitation systems in communities.
Resource: Audio
[photo - Sara Chamberlain]

"People can learn from mobile phones," says Sara Chamberlain, Head of Interactive for BBC World Trust and developer. She launched BBC Janala to "raise the language skills of 25 million people in Bangladesh by 2017". She speaks with host Sheela Sethuraman about how 3 million people already started learning English with in some cases the most basic handsets. According to Chamberlain, making English accessible affordably could be "a ticket out of poverty" for the people of Bangladesh.

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

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

Resource: Video
[photo - Picture: Mannar]

A breakthrough for global health: double fortified salt has been recognized as a social innovation that delivers small but crucial daily amounts of iodine and iron to individuals at a very low cost. In this audio interview, Stanford Center for Social Innovation correspondent Sheela Sethuraman talks with Venkatesh Mannar, 2010 Tech Award winner in Health, as he shares his process of bringing this innovation from lab to market, with the potential to reach billions of people worldwide.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Picture: Shea]

Got a great business idea? Consider taking it to Chile, where the government is now offering $40,000 grants and one-year visas to help early-stage entrepreneurs develop their companies, through a program called Start-Up Chile. In this audio interview, Stanford Social Innovation correspondent Ashkon Jafari talks with Nicolas Shea, innovation advisor to the Chilean minister of economy, about the program's genesis, goals, and progress so far.

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

This case details the innovative work of business executive Tom Siebel, who launched the Meth Project in 2005 to 'unsell' meth to first time users in Montana. The program used an innovative research-based marketing campaign and has since scaled to other states. 

Resource: Academic Case

The CEO of Gardenburger, a seller of veggie burger products and other food alternatives to meat, considers the company’s advertising strategy. He aims to take the company from the small health-food niche to the consumer mainstream.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - William P. Barnett]

Various economic and environmental issues face the owners of a cruise business in the Galapagos Islands. The case gives special attention to the efforts of locals to preserve and enhance their own ecotourism business prospects.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Jesper B. Sorensen]

As Green as It Gets was a nonprofit economic development organization supporting small, independent producers in disadvantaged Guatemalan communities. The founder pondered how to grow and sustain the organization.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - James A. Phills]

Worldstock, Overstock.com’s socially responsible initiative, which marketed handicrafts produced by developing nation artisans to the United States, was suffering losses. Some stakeholders wondered if Worldstock would be shut down or spun off if the situation did not improve.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Garth  Saloner]

Equity Bank, a microfinance services provider, experienced a remarkable turnaround in the early 1990s. What strategy did the CEO pursue to accomplish such a feat?

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Rick Aubry]

Two social ventures collaborated with each other to help expand one’s solar energy services from southern Brazil into the Amazon region. The case highlights the core factors that led to the project’s ultimate outcome.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - James A. Phills]

This strategy case discusses a number of challenges facing nonprofit managers. These include establishing a sustainable and self-supporting operating model, generating corporate-sector support, and managing through a financial crisis.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - James A. Phills]

Unitus focuses on accelerating the growth of the microfinance industry. This first case describes the Unitus business model for microfinance and whether or not the company should expand the capital it provides to partners through a debt or equity fund.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - James A. Phills]

Unitus focuses on accelerating the growth of the microfinance industry. While case A examined Unitus options to expand the capital it provides to partners, this second case reveals the decisions Unitus leaders made.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Embrace]

While at Stanford, the Embrace team developed an idea for an infant warmer to help low-birth-weight-infants. As designed, the warmer was small and light, transportable, and easy to use, and had the potential to be produced at a fraction of the cost of available incubators. The team decided to pursue their idea by creating a nonprofit called Embrace Global to further develop and commercialize the technology. Through discussion with its board of directors and other advisors, the team thought transitioning from a prototype to a market-ready product would require funding and considered equity investments. However, the team realized in using private investors, it could be more difficult to justify targeting market segments who are considered small commercially. This mini-case study explores how Embrace decided to pursue a hybrid structure and steps to balance competing priorities in a new model.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Design that Matters]

Incubators can prevent infant deaths from hypothermia, shorten hospital stays, and reduce the rate of neonatal complications that can lead to lifelong illness and disability. Unfortunately, they are far too expensive for many resource-constrained settings, particularly developing countries. Design that Matters (DtM) partnered with CIMIT to develop a concept incubator that was uniquely suited to the context of a developing country, made with parts already abundant in the environment. The results was NeoNurture. Although NeoNurture was never brought to the market, the process of developing this product introduced important insights about designing contextually appropriate projects. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - IDRI]

The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) was founded by immunologist Steve Reed in 1993 as a nonprofit global health research center. The institute was distinguished by its emphasis on the practical end goal of getting its products to market. To accomplish this, IDRI drew on distinct competencies of diverse collaboration. IDRI needed a substantial, ongoing stream of funding in order to continue realizing results. However, as a nonprofit, they could not tap into venture capital funding like private firms. These funding constraints made sustaining the company challenging and limited its strategic growth. This case study describes how Reed devised a model to create a for-profit development arms to commercialize select IDRI vaccine.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - KickStart]

Fisher and Moon founded KickStart to design tools that would enable Africa’s poor to launch and sustain their own profitable businesses. The organization’s first product was a line of manually operated irrigation pumps — branded “MoneyMaker Pumps” — that would help subsistence farmers transform their farms into profitable family businesses. The KickStart team believed that to be sustainable, its products had to be affordable and enable farmers to realize return on their investment within a relatively short period. This mini-case study explores this approach and how KickStart structures its business to provide enduring solutions.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - KickStart]

KickStart was founded to design tools that would enable Africa’s poor to launch and sustain profitable businesses. Its first product was a line of manually operated irrigation pumps — branded “MoneyMaker Pumps” — that would help subsistence farmers transform their farms into profitable family businesses. When the first MoneyMaker pumps were brought to market, they were accepted by rural African farmers as affordable, versatile, durable, easy to maintain, and culturally appropriate. However,  KickStart subsequently faced significant challenges manufacturing MoneyMaker pumps in sufficient volumes and at a reasonable cost. This mini-case study examines how KickStart addressed these challenges to established high quality, affordable manufacturing for the long term.

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
[photo - Ned Breslin]

Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People, tells us where he draws his inspiration from and where he gets his perspective on social change from – punk rock. In the first episode of his “Social Disruptors” series, Ned argues that the story arc of punk, its relentless push for change, offers important insights into how social entrepreneurs operate everywhere, whether they like punk rock or not.

Resource: Audio

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 - 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
Corner