MBA students traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil In January 2013 and 2014 for the course, Global Entrepreneurship for Social Change. The course is offered in Buenos Aires, Argentina in January 2015. The purpose of this course is to learn what is possible and how, by examining a myriad of diverse experiences that are making a difference all over the world. Through readings, case analysis, guest speakers, and experiential exercises students gained an understanding of the processes for translating good ideas and intentions into high-impact ventures. Students acquired knowledge, tools and skills that enhanced their capabilities for identifying and developing opportunities. The course called for an exploration of what students can do by developing financially viable ideas for on-going enterprises for which positive social and environmental impact is essential.
We live in a world filled with complex global challenges. It is also a time of opportunities for making a difference. In this context, the way we pursue and achieve social change must be “revolutionized” through fresh paradigms for solving the world’s diverse pool of problems: environmental degradation, increasing inequality gap in the United States and other industrialized societies, famine in an era of obesity, obesity in a world with extensive hunger, lack of access to potable water by a large majority, persistent illiteracy and isolation in the time of the Ipad and Facebook, among many others. Entrepreneurship for social change is about combining business and management skills, imagination, passion, and the courage of individuals to effectively tackle some of these issues. It can be found across sectors and takes different organizational forms and business models.
Student experiences follow:
“Human beings who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so” ~ Douglas Adams; I believe that this quote encapsulates why going abroad to Rio de Janeiro was such a rewarding experience for me. We were exposed to a variety of social ventures (Afro Reggae, Saude Criancia, Rio-Ro, Asta, etc.) and we were able to learn from their successes and pitfalls. We were able to analyze business models that were successful and obtain a firm understanding of what a social enterprise truly is and the type of impact that it can make on the world.” – Christopher Franklin, Evening MBA
“The course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, opened up a whole new perspective on doing business. The visits to social businesses, meeting the social entrepreneurs as well as the classes by Professor Marquez were highly impressive and made me realize that doing business can be used to change the world. The beauty of the country and its people are the perfect setting to get inspired and be creative to develop your own social business ideas.” – Ann Sophie Loehde, Dual-degree IMBA with WHU
“In Rio de Janeiro we dove into a rich world of ideas and inspirations behind a variety of social enterprises – a socially responsible and high fashion sneaker company, a sports organization that fuels the desire for change from within for the homeless, and a drug company that valued patients more than its own bottom line. Then we visited local favelas (Brazilian slums) where people had started their own businesses to make a change, and suddenly ideas that were flat on paper stood on their feet. Some of then danced and sang, like in the case of AfroReggae; some of them dazzled and flashed, like in the case of Mulheres de Salguero… The stories we learned from these cases not only gave us frameworks to develop the seed of our own ideas, they also sparked a fire of motivation in our bellies.” – Tina D’Amore, IMBA
“The guided city tour on the weekend took us to the famed landmarks of Rio and enabled us to enjoy the charm of this former imperial capital of a once major European power. That night we were treated to the Brazilian food and music culture, first with a decadent churrascaria dinner and then a visit to a Samba School. Putting this in perspective with the revelations of various social issues – from the tours we had to the Afro-Reggae movement in Rio’s favelas and the Mulheres de Salgueiro workshop – [the course] gave us a new insight into how two worlds can exist not just in one city, but within one person.” – Danidu Wijekoon, IMBA
What about you? Have you participated in a course abroad that inspired you to develop a business that will have a positive social and environmental impact in the world?