Social Enterprises: Combining Social Mission with Profit Making

Course Description

The traditional lines between social mission organizations and commercial enterprises have been broken. Recent years have seen a surge in a new type of business, one that combines profit making with social and/or environmental mission. In this course, we will delve into the growing phenomenon of “social enterprises”. We will look at how the field has developed over time and the different models of social enterprises that stem from both the NGO and commercial sectors.

Syllabus Overview

Lecture on the development and categorization of social enterprises

Discussion/simulation with 3 founders of social enterprises: Three very different case studies of social enterprises will be presented by the founders.  The students will hear about the models first hand and engage in a problem-solving workshop with each of the social entrepreneurs in which a challenge will be presented from the real life experience of the entrepreneur running the enterprise. Each group of students will be given the task of deciding on the most appropriate solution that keeps the balance between social mission and profit making. 

Creating a mock social enterprise – workshop: In the final part of the course, students will get into groups and create their own mock social enterprise aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, culminating in a pitch about what their social enterprise does and how.

Session 1: What are Social Enterprises? 

Session 2-4: Case studies & problem solving with social entrepreneur 

Session 5: Creating a social enterprise – Workshop Part I 

Session 6: Creating a social enterprise – Workshop Part II & Pitch of mock social enterprises


By the end of this course, students will be able to identify the opportunities for creating a social business and the challenges that need to be understood and dealt with along the way. Through both theoretical and practical tools offered during the course, students will be able to think critically about navigating the at times conflicting logics of social mission and profit making of social enterprises and work to maximize their mission in a manner that is self-sustaining as an enterprise.

Teaching Faculty

This course is taught as part of the ACTO Center for Impact Investing and Entrepreneurship. Teaching faculty are from the ACTO research center and selected social entrepreneurs.

More information

Contact the Office for International Academic Affairs for more information about the program and registration for the next session. Courses are offered both on a regular basis for individual registration and tailor made in collaboration with the requesting organization/institution.