- Research By Topic
- Student Programs
- Executive Programs
- GSB Social Innovators
- Community Engagement
- About CSI
Skip to Content
Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.
Social intrapreneurs—change agents already working deep within business—are the answer for business’s woes.
Authors Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith explain how to harness the power of social media to achieve social change in their book The Dragonfly Effect.
Three types of leadership are needed to build a successful organization.
Social innovators are usually motivated by their personal values, yet they don’t always act on them, because they are afraid it might lead to conflict. Even when they do act, it often ends badly. To remedy this, social innovators can learn how to articulate their values consistently and act on them in a way that is likely to lead to good outcomes.
Nonprofits are so busy building schools, vaccinating infants, or providing medical relief that often, they simply don’t have the time for solid social media efforts. Chris Hughes, Facebook’s cofounder, has created a solution for that: a platform called Jumo.
Former Vice President Al Gore kicked off the 2005 Net Impact conference at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the largest annual gathering in the world for MBA students and young professionals focused on corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, international development, and environmental management.
More than 50 panel discussions ranging from green buildings to California's stem cell research initiative engaged 1,600 attendees at the 2005 Net Impact Conference, held at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Socially minded entrepreneurship will not wane but rather will offer more and more opportunities for business-trained professionals well into the future, speakers with experience in the field told a Stanford Business School audience.
Two pioneers of the organic food industry say a growing awareness of global warming and other issues is making corporate America eager to get into markets once not taken seriously.
Gary Hirshberg, CEO of organic foods product company Stonyfield Farm, speaks about the role of business in influencing sustainability, citing the rise of organic foods as evidence of the power of the market to help solve challenging social and environmental problems.
Inspiring change through photography.
How the Freelancers Union is modernizing the labor movement for independent workers. —By Amy Wilkinson
Maria Yee established her eco-friendly, high-end furniture company long before going green was the done thing. Two decades later, her company’s environmentally sound practices not only reflect a planet-friendly ethos, but also drive a market-friendly creative edge. Here’s how and why Yee stays green in a brown industry.
Now anyone can lend money to students.
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.
The White House is about to announce the creation of the Office of Social Innovation.
This blog is the last of Marcia Stepanek’s coverage of the Skoll World Forum 2009 at Oxford University.
Reporting from the 6th annual Skoll World Forum for social innovation
“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
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.
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.
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.
Stanford GSB alum ('08) founded Nuru International to maximize local leadership to drive sustainable change.
A panel on the the importance of mainstreaming and investing in green chemistry for the future of energy and the environment.
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.
Hau Lee explains how value chain innovations can help entrepreneurs in developing economies grow their businesses, and what multinational corporations can learn from them.
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.
"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.
What if games were used to solve real-world problems?
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.
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.
Ashoka was a professional organization that identified and invested in leading social entrepreneurs globally. The organization faced challenges as it updated its mission to “make things happen in a bigger way.”
David Dodson started the septic company Green River Environmental after mixed results in his previous entrepreneurial ventures. This case tracks three difficult mangerial situations Dodson faced during his tenure as CEO and chairman of the company.
Minnesota Public Radio had evolved from a small public radio station to a network of 38 stations, mainly through social purpose capitalism. The founder came under criticism after creating for-profit ventures to support and build the enterprise.
Napo was developing a compound to treat diarrhea while arranging an innovative public-private partnership to distribute it in the developing world. When that partnership proved difficult to arrange, the founder had to decide whether to continue pursuing it.
A new breed of entrepreneurs is prioritizing social impact over the creation of wealth. This video case examines the insights, aspirations, and impact of three leading social entrepreneurs and the challenges they face in distributing products and services in hard-to-reach places. It is meant to be used in conjunction with cases SI72 A and SI72 B.
Waste Concern in Bangladesh had earned an international reputation for its innovative approach to waste management in Dhaka. The organization needed to consider two opportunities to raise capital for expansion from large foreign firms.
By 2005, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had firmly established the importance of building a knowledge base and communicating its findings to external and internal constitutencies. The foundation faced the challenge of how to effectively execute its communications.
This case, part two in a two-part series, explores the challenge of distribution, particularly for nonprofit entities seeking to bring their products and services to hard-to-reach places around the world.
The Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund provides Silicon Valley donors with philanthropic experience and education to empower their giving, and awards capacity-building grants to nonprofits. The fund’s leadership wondered how to improve the partner consulting program to better leverage partner expertise, and how to engage partners in grantmaking and educational activities.
Practitioners and academics at a 2004 Stanford University conference discussed the field of venture philanthropy. The overview includes topics such as capacity building, relationships between grantors and grantees, and performance measurement.
KickStart was founded by Martin Fisher and Nick Moon 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 KickStart was ready to launch its MoneyMaker pumps, it faced the challenge of how to effectively reach and market the products to target consumers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mali. In these regions, average farmers and their families are physically isolated and have few resources; because of this, it is likely purchasing a KickStart product may be the most expensive purchase they will ever make. Moreover, many farmers understand little about pump technology and cultural norms prevent the use of word-of-mouth sales and 'viral marketing' to promote the product.
KickStart was founded by Martin Fisher and Nick Moon 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. Since its inception, KickStart had sold more than 180,000 MoneyMaker pumps. Despite these encouraging sales figures, the company still faced the critical questions that confronted every social enterprise: What was the actual impact of the product on the people it was intended to help? This mini-case study describes how the KickStart team developed a rigorous yet realistic approach to measuring and understanding the impact of its interventions.
Trevor Field, a retired British businessman and outdoor advertising executive, was deeply moved when he observed women and and girls in rural villages of South Africa shouldering the daily burden of collecting water. When he became aware of a technology that was meant to serve as both a children's merry-go-round and community water pump, he founded Roundabout Outdoor to manufacture, install, and maintain the product known as PlayPump.
Maternova was founded in 2009 as a mission-driven for-profit organization with two main objectives: (1) to provided online knowledge platform that would allow health workers, innovators, and individuals working in the field to track tools and with the potential to save lives in childbirth, and (2) to bundle and sell a select number of low-cost tools to equip frontline health workers to do their jobs more effectively.
To help address the issue of unplanned pregnancy and maternal mortality in the developing world, researchers at the University of Georgetown's Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) recognized the need for an intitutive, 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 simple family planning system, as well as CycleBeads to provide a tangible tool to help women follow the method. IRH was met with resistance and this case studies examines how the strategy used by the team to overcome market resistance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was the suicide of a young man that turned Vivek Garg toward using business as a means of fostering peace and reconciliation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.