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Business and business leaders are now being called upon to solve more social problems, says Matt Segneri (MBA 2010). Segneri, who worked on public- and social-sector innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies, was recently named director of the School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, charged with supporting the HBS students, faculty, and alumni who are taking on the complex challenges facing society, like education and inequality.

The Social Enterprise Initiative was founded more than 20 years ago. What does “social enterprise” mean today?

I think of social enterprise broadly: applying business principles to solve social problems, across the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

People still frame “entrepreneurs” and “social entrepreneurs” as two distinct groups, but more and more folks are thinking in a more blended way. The average entrepreneur is becoming much more civically engaged and socially minded. They are creating businesses that are deeply invested in the community and are thinking responsibly about how they are making a profit.

What role do HBS graduates play in the field of social enterprise?

The statistic most people look at is “graduating MBAs.” About 5 percent are going directly into the nonprofit and government sectors. But that is a single snapshot. If you looked at our alumni over time, it would be a vastly larger number. Right now, a third are sitting on nonprofit boards, and numerous alumni have been at the forefront of testing new models of high-impact philanthropy. The new trend is midcareer and late-career professionals who have had great success in business and are now looking for a more impact-driven career.

People will take a lot of different paths. My question is: How do we get folks in all sectors deeply involved and engaged in solving the biggest problems our country and the world are facing?

Photo by Dave Cross Photography

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2010, Section E
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