Simon Healeas tells us more about the Social Entrepreneurship Module which was first launched on 2010 and where it is heading. This module involves learning about social enterprises and charities, and focuses on the importance of the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit) in the third sector. Emphasis is placed on working on social problems within a challenging overseas environment. Throughout the module, students work with the U.K. based charity “The Great Generation”. The charity identifies appropriate overseas projects and arranges the overseas element of the module. Many of the skills that are acquired/developed will be through a ‘learning by doing’ approach. In terms of core knowledge, there will be limited use made of the traditional lecture and seminar. An integral part of the module is the need to work with, and for, an outside organisation, typically a charity.
Can you please tell us which countries you have been focusing on and what do students try to achieve during this elective module for their MBA ?
We have been working mainly in Uganda. We have had 4 trips so far three of that been to Kampala in Uganda and the other one to Mumbai in India. We work with a number of charities in Kampala and we work on different aspects of how they run their organisations.
So sometimes the students were involved in with fund raising, raising public profile looking at stock ordering systems, HR issues, training, different aspects of running an organisation where the students can take their business skill set and experience and apply it within a social content.
The students give partial solutions as the issues that they deal with rather difficult which are often cultural issues. Often they would be making a contribution to a partial solution. Also keep in mind that the students are only in these countries for only two weeks. There is a limit to what they can do in that sort of time frame having said that they do work with the charity before they go out there to try to get a brief and to have an idea what they will try to achieve there what their deliverables are, what they should try to achieve when they are in the country. We try to help these charities in some meaningful way in running the organisation better either by developing an IT system, providing training work shops or whatever the charity what you to do in that period of time.
In India 4 students worked with a charity in Mumbai that dealt specifically with child abuse and it was a smaller charity run by 14 women in Mumbai. They were looking at how the charity would extend its network how would it reach out to more people, how they would be better known. They were looking at similar charities in the Uk such as the child line and see what they have done to extend their networks and reach out to more people rather then being a very narrowly based charity.
Can you tell us about the structure of this Social Entrepreneurship Module?
The module is essentially an elective module so it is a one semester module. In practice it is working with the charity 4-5 weeks before the trip and then spending two weeks in the country working with your fellow MBA students and then when you come back you do a reflective piece on how you found it. So it is an unusual module it doesn’t sit neatly within the university frame work it is done outside of teaching typically beginning of September and Easter and is a non-conventional delivered module. It is quite different module without any examination at the end.
It is all about learning by doing. Especially with entrepreneurship we are really saying here is a challenging environment, resource constraints, cultural differences, entrenched social problems and rather then discuss that in a classroom actually work in that environment and in a sense test yourself to the limit in terms of being resourceful, adaptable. The students have to listen to the people carefully to make sure you understand what’s going on and to get a grip on what you are trying to achieve. You have to learn to work with local people and respect local customs. It is a different approach. I t breaks that mould drastically.
We have also been doing this in Underground level but in undergraduate is mostly local but at Post Graduate level it is great that we get the students to another country and it becomes more complex.
What are your future plans for this Module?
At the moment we are working with a charity called Great Generation and we are hoping to work with another charity called The Voice of the Women. The next step I would like to do is to develop another module where students will go out to India work in the communities specifically helping women to start businesses to give them greater sense of self reliance, independence and freedom. Also I am hoping to get an elective module on the MBA to sit alongside the social entrepreneurship one . Currently the students can do two electives so you can then start a social entrepreneurship theme into the MBA. Currently, MBA is very generic for general but by definition as most MBAs are but you start to get some sort of specialisation and hopefully transform people’s mindsets.
It is not really about adding another module to the MBA but rather changing people’s mindsets and ultimately try to make people to see the world with a different eye.
I have some great feedback from the students who have taken this module. I know certain cases where taking this module transformed their lives in terms of a drastic career change.
What made you start this Module two years ago ?
I think it was number of reasons : First of all I think that Entrepreneurship is very to be thought in a classroom and second reason is in some small way we do have some responsibility to try to change the world for the better. I am not naive about this but I do believe that there is a small way to do that. And if you can do that through your work why not!
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