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Dec. 20, 2023

Faculty voice: Harnessing social entrepreneurship

Laurel Ofstein, faculty director of the Burgess Institute, talks about a course being offered this spring, as well as the importance of social entrepreneurship.

This spring, Michigan State University's Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation invites students to enroll in ESHP 491: Special Topics in Entrepreneurship — Entrepreneurship for the Social Good. The course bridges entrepreneurship and community impact, equipping tomorrow's innovators to tackle social challenges profitably and sustainably.

Social entrepreneurship merges economic, social, and environmental objectives, epitomized by the mantra "doing well by doing good." Icons like Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes exemplify this, transforming customer purchases into acts of charity and global awareness campaigns. Unlike non-profits or corporations with Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, social ventures integrate societal impact into their core operations.

Laurel Ofstein posing for a photo in a purple jacket.
Laurel Ofstein. Courtesy photo.

Consumers increasingly favor brands that demonstrate a strong, purpose-driven mission. MSU's Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor and Venture Creation program prepare students to apply their purpose in a business context by creatively addressing global issues such as hunger and climate change. MSU alumni like Josh York, a 2016 Eli Broad College graduate, have turned passions into social ventures. Starting with minimal capital, York's company now boasts a $1.5 million valuation, emphasizing ethical practices and supporting Detroit's homeless community.

"Entrepreneurship for the Social Good" (ESHP 491.1), running Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:40-2:00 pm, will explore social entrepreneurship principles and how to apply them for tangible outcomes benefitting the community. The curriculum aims to foster job creation and triple-bottom-line impacts—people, profit and the planet. The course promises a comprehensive guide to social venture creation and is open to both seasoned and novice entrepreneurship and business students.

This piece originally appeared on the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation website.

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