Social Entrepreneurship: Models for Intervention in Global Poverty

Sophomore and above—Fall

The term social entrepreneurship refers to an approach to creating sustainable and scalable social change. This seminar will define and explore social entrepreneurship as an emerging and dynamic field. It is not a course on how to become a social entrepreneur; however, students will gain insights into developing social enterprises through case studies. We will examine promise and practice with the perspective of global economic scholarship and theory. What is the potential of social entrepreneurship as a catalyst for social change? What are the barriers, limits, and constraints to achieving sustainable impact? Focusing on global poverty provides a context to look at social entrepreneurship as one approach to addressing complex and systemic problems. Issues and controversy are part of the terrain. For example, is microcredit a sustainable strategy for poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment, or is it a path toward deeper indebtedness for the poorest or the poor? Are market-based interventions more effective in reaching vulnerable populations than distribution models of government, aid agencies, or NGOs? What is the role of subsidy, sustainability, and profit maximization in meeting the needs of the bottom billion? In what ways do market forces create tension between social mission and the economic viability of business models? In addition to analyzing the work of leading development economists, we will look at case studies of social enterprises in emerging economies as models of intervention, innovation, and social change.