MBAs Tackle Poverty, Malnutrition and Access to Healthcare

MBA social innovation course: students to lead own projects

30/01/2015 Barcelona

IESE Business School
MBA students develop their social own businesses project. / Photo: Archive

February marks a special stage for MBA students with the start of the elective course: The Project in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. The course gives students a chance to take a deep dive into a different sphere of business, where the aim is to improve the lives of the least fortunate.

The best way to learn how to set up and manage a social business is first-hand experience and advice from experts. So while the program is structured around sessions based on the case method and talks by invited speakers, some 60 percent of the learning happens outside of the classroom. Led by course director, Prof. Antonino Vaccaro, the students work in small groups to develop their own social projects.

“Each year there are more and students interested in giving back by starting their own social business,” says Prof. Vaccaro, who is co-director of IESE’s Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Platform. “They want to work on professional projects that tackle issues like malnutrition, access to healthcare, education and professional training. And the course prepares them and helps them begin.”

The Project in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship has three main objectives: to give students the opportunity to develop their own social business; to introduce them to high-level professionals in the not-for-profit sector; and to empower them to drive debate about the functions of business in society.

Talks with Sector Leaders

Academic sessions are structured around analysis of social business fundamentals and the exchange of ideas and debate. A series of special sessions gives students a chance to hear from leading business people and executives in social organizations such as Ariel Kestens, head of training and research at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent; Alejandro Chafuen, president of Atlas Network; and Vincent Fauvet, president and co-founder of Investir&plus.

The special sessions map to the teaching plan, and look at different aspects of social entrepreneurial leadership.

Xavier Pont, cofounder and managing director of Ship2b, looks at the role company incubators can play for social entrepreneurs. The session with Daniel Turiel, managing director of the NGO ACTEC, focuses on how to effectively support entrepreneurial initiatives in developing countries, while Montserrat Blanco, director of the Fundació La Caixa, will discuss her experience of alliances between social and traditional businesses. Other sessions will look at the social bank and the collaborative economy.

With its combination of academic curriculum, input from experienced professionals and hands-on project work, the course has proved to be very popular with MBA students – and an experience has been described as having a profound and lasting personal impact.

TheSocial Entrepreneurship and Innovation Platform

IESE’s Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Platform was established by the Center for Business in Society to publicize social entrepreneurial opportunities and projects. The key main objectives of the platform are:

  • to develop new teaching and scientific initiatives in the field of the social economy
  • to facilitate contact between IESE alumni and social entrepreneurs
  • and to offer direct help to those interested in launching new social businesses

Find out more about the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Platform.