01 Mar 2013
A Mission in Motion
Behind the business of delivering social valueTopics:
Since its beginnings 20 years ago, the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative has been a focal point for applying innovative business practices to drive sustainable, high-impact social change. Conceived by John Whitehead (MBA 1947), the SEI was founded at HBS and brought to fruition by Whitehead, then-Dean John McArthur, and Professors Jim Austin and Kash Rangan. That commitment confirms a strong strand that has run through the School's DNA since the 1970's—in fact, every year more and more MBA applicants are drawn to HBS for its courses focused on nonprofit management and the programs and fellowships that support students and alumni who want to use their business skills to create social good.
As you'll notice in this issue of the Bulletin, that drive can take many forms. In "Making Change", we check in with alumni honored with the School's Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship to report on the progress they've made with their ventures. These include Abigail Falik's (MBA 2008) Global Citizen Year (pictured above), which she founded after she discovered, as a recent high school graduate, that the Peace Corps was effectively closed to her. GCY is a nonprofit that offers a pre-college "bridge" year of service learning and leadership training in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
Change begins in the classroom, too, with Executive Education Programs such as Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management ("Bringing It Back Home"), which draws nonprofit leaders from around the world to the HBS campus. Associate Professor Alnoor Ebrahim teaches in the program; his research on quantifying results in the nonprofit sector is already shaping practice, as shown at the US foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation, where alumnus Jonathan Bloom (MBA 1972) has firsthand experience with largescale training and infrastructure efforts in Ghana ("Sizing Up Social Impact").
"A Healthy Profit" tells the story of Antares, a timely collaboration between HBS and Harvard's School of Public Health that uses business solutions to improve public health products, services, and delivery in the developing world. "Only business can provide the massive scale, permanence, and continuous efficacy and efficiency improvements that poverty-reduction initiatives must have to succeed," says Antares cofounder and HBS senior lecturer Michael Chu, who is using his experience as a microfinance pioneer to harness markets to create better public health outcomes.
When he stepped down as chair of SEI's Advisory Board in 2009, John Whitehead said, "The extent to which the program has benefited the students, the School, and social enterprise organizations all over the world has far exceeded my fondest dreams." This issue offers ample proof of that statement. We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to hearing your own stories of making change: firstname.lastname@example.org.