social entrepreneurship – Opus Magnum
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social entrepreneurship

Centers, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Jargon Genesis, Newsroom

What exactly is a social entrepreneur?

By Dr. Mark Spriggs, from the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship newsletter

Dr. Mark Spriggs

About 10 years ago, I felt like an NFL player when Dean Puto told me I had been traded from the Marketing Department to the Entrepreneurship Department. My first and most daunting challenge was learning to spell entrepreneurship. Is that “per” or “pre;” “eu” or “ue?” I imagine some of you went through the same transition when you discovered, or were told, that you were a social entrepreneur. You thought you were running a nonprofit. You knew your organization was attempting to solve the problems of poverty, disease and hunger, or provide literacy training or medical care to people, all to help resolve the social inequities we see every day in the world, and someone said “What you are doing is social entrepreneurship” and you had to figure how to spell it, too.

But proper spelling was just the beginning, wasn’t it? Next you asked yourself and those around you “What exactly is a social entrepreneur?” I avoided the question until St. Thomas announced we were hosting the 2009 Opus Prize. One of the principles of the Opus Prize is social entrepreneurship, and people were asking me about the social entrepreneurship activities of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and the Opus College of Business. So I did some investigating, and found that social entrepreneurship includes a number of exciting and worthwhile activities. Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship, Environment, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

From Feeling Guilty to Finding a Way to Help: The Creation of Kiva

Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, the world’s first peer to peer micro lending website, joined the UST Symposium of Social Entrepreneurship to talk about creating an entrepreneurial life. Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, one person at a time. Kiva’s loans are expected to reach $1 billion in 2012. Talking with current and aspiring social entrepreneurs at the symposium, Jackley shared the story of how her entrepreneurial life has unfolded.

Starting at a young age, Jackley was taught about the poor as people who needed a handout. Sunday school classes taught her that her job was to help them. Television and direct mailing taught her that there were children around the world who were sad and spent their time with their hands out. These images haunted her as she grew up. As a junior in high school, Jackley visited Haiti. She came back to the US just before her high school prom. The sharp contrast between the lives of those her age in Haiti compared to her own caused an emotional struggle. While she was spending money on a dress, transportation, flowers, dinner and an evening of dancing, those in Haiti were struggling to find something to eat.

Fast forward a few years and Jackley found herself a college graduate without a specific direction. She landed as a departmental assistant at Stanford where she was able to meet people like Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi banker, economist, Nobel peace prize recipient, and developer of the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. His influences and stories reshaped Jackley’s understanding of the poor. It wasn’t necessarily that these people were looking for a handout but rather they were stuck in the cycle of poverty. Many of these artisans were making goods but didn’t have access to good credit. Creditors would only borrow to them at 300% interest which meant they could sell their products but paid all of the profits back to these creditors.

Like most entrepreneurs, Jackley took a big risk. She quit her job and moved to East Africa. By gaining firsthand knowledge of the cycle of poverty, Jackley began seeing the poor as hard working, smart, strong entrepreneurs who simply did not have access to financing. Just a simple interest free loan of $20 could end this cycle. These people had something to offer not just empty hands held out. Those who, like Jackley, wanted to help could lend interest free to those who needed a loan to keep their business going. By making this connection, not only does Kiva help those who need assistance escaping the cycle of poverty, it is also helping those willing to lend to make a difference without making a handout.

Jackley learned a significant amount through the launch of Kiva. Although her words of wisdom were stated specifically for non-profits but they can easily be applied to for profit companies. Her top four suggestions include: Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship, Newsroom, OCB Alumni

Student Business Profile

Today’s post comes from the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship newsletter, with a profile of a new venture launched by some undergraduate business alumni, who among other clients are helping the UST MBA with some marketing and social media consulting.

Business name: The Social Lights, LLC
Owner(s): Martha McCarthy and Emily Pritchard
Type of business: Marketing & Advertising Agency
Number of employees: 2 (+ 3 PT interns)
Contact Information: | 651-962-4551 |

The Social Lights, LLC is an integrated marketing agency specializing in social media strategies and high-impact digital marketing campaigns. Founded in January 2011 by UST graduates Martha McCarthy and Emily Pritchard, this agency is quickly growing in the Twin Cities market.

Martha and Emily graduated from the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship in May 2011. “As part of our capstone course we wrote an in-depth business plan and pitched it to dozens of local businesspeople. After countless hours of research and ample encouragement, we knew that we wanted to pursue The Social Lights full-time after graduation” says Martha. Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship, Newsroom, OCB Alumni

Solving the World’s Problems Through Social Entrepreneurship

Social enterprise applies established business practices to address poverty, hunger and human rights issues

Ryan Skoog has founded two businesses that leverage social enterprise to help address worldwide social issues.

Ryan Skoog has founded two businesses that leverage social enterprise to help address worldwide social issues.

From the Fall 2011 edition of B. Magazine, by Ryan Skoog ’10 M.B.A.

It’s not often that a marketing management term paper leads to an expedition across Death Valley in the heat of summer. But this was my plan from the beginning. As the founder of Venture Expeditions, a nonprofit that utilizes business models and practices to address worldwide social issues, I leveraged the Death Valley trip to raise awareness and resources to fund 250,000 meals for Burmese refugees.

The driving principle behind social entrepreneurship is to use the power of business to profitably solve social and environmental issues. As the founder of Venture Expeditions Inc., I had a basic understanding of how social entrepreneurship could help solve some of these challenging issues. And as a graduate student at the University of St. Thomas I had a front row seat to the rising trend of social enterprise.

My first enterprise started as a late-night dorm conversation in 2002 with my friend and co-founder, Aaron Smith: “What if we bike across the country to raise money for humanitarian mission projects?”

That dream grew into a courageous first trip from Portland, Ore., to New York City that raised $17,000. Our efforts evolved into the creation of Venture Expeditions, an organization involving thousands of people across the country and hundreds of participants hiking mountains, cycling across continents and running across states, to raise funds and awareness for humanitarian projects. To date, more than $1 million has been raised to fund dozens of clean water projects in Africa, a children’s care center in Thailand, safe houses for victims of human trafficking in Asia and a Burmese refugee food program.

Early on, the growth of Venture Expeditions led me to seek an M.B.A degree. I heard Dean Christopher Puto give a lecture on how the “goal of any business is to create something of value that benefits individuals and society,” and “that profits will follow” this type of business. I remember thinking, “That’s it! Use the power of business as the solution to social issues.”

Transitioning from a nonprofit undergraduate degree to an M.B.A. program was a shock at first. I remember teaching myself calculus late at night on Wikipedia just to keep up in an economics class. Yet the M.B.A. program provided me with a new perspective, convincing me that having a social mission is the greatest way to quickly grow a profitable business or new product line with limited capital in today’s market. And along the way, I learned some key lessons about when to let social mission inform our business models and vice versa.

While I was already deeply involved with Venture Expeditions, several St. Thomas entrepreneurship professors also encouraged me to look for opportunities in a niche industry I was already familiar with. For me, that opportunity was volunteer travel. Growing up in a family that placed a heavy emphasis on world travel, I had already led 24 trips to 42 countries to participate in humanitarian missions. So, I turned a final marketing paper for Dr. Avinash Malshe into a business plan, raised capital from friends and family and launched Fly for Good, Inc., a for-profit travel company that offers humanitarian discounted airfare through 13 major airlines and discounted travel insurance through our International Volunteer Card brand.

By the time I graduated from the UST MBA program, Fly for Good had saved volunteers and nonprofits millions of dollars on airfare, allowing them to do more good with their organizations. And just as importantly, the company has grown to more than $6 million in sales, with high-profile clients such as Harvard University,, Invisible Children and the Peace Corps.

Read the rest of this article in B. Magazine.

Centers, Entrepreneurship, Ethics, FTMBA, leadership, Newsroom

Where Mission and Market Intersect for the Common Good

By Katherine Kirchner, a student in the Full-time UST MBA Program

What is my way of causing change? How will I make an impact in society and leave this world a better place? These are some of the questions that I had when I began the full-time UST MBA program. The UST Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship, held on campus last month, provided insights to these questions and how I can find meaningful work and make an impact. More than 100 attendees and 12 social entrepreneurs came together to talk about the innovative ways that they are working to tackle social change.

204487_111013SMB038The speakers were engaging and left me with the following messages: Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship, Environment, Local business, Newsroom, OCB Alumni

Car Sharing Comes to UST

HOURCAR is placing two new Toyota Priuses on the University of St. Thomas' Saint Paul campus.

HOURCAR is placing two new Toyota Priuses on the UST Saint Paul campus.

When I moved to New York City, as soon as I could, I sold my car. There, cars are more of a burden than a benefit, with high gas and insurance prices, everyday challenges finding parking and worrying about security among other things. Plus it was so easy—and usually faster—to get around the city by subway or bus.

Fast forward a few years as I was moving to the Twin Cities; my goal was to get by without a car. People told me it would be impossible. I thought the same thing—but so far, I’ve succeeded. (My wife does drive our one car.) Thanks to buses, access to the skyway and HOURCAR, I’m getting around town easily and avoiding a lot of hassle and expense that comes with having a second car. Now HOURCAR is placing two new Toyota Priuses on the University of St. Thomas’ Saint Paul campus. Continue Reading

Admissions, Admissions, EveningMBA, FTMBA, Health Care MBA, Newsroom, Student Life

The emergence of social entrepreneurship in the MBA community

The Education section of the New York Times this morning had an article about the emergence of social entrepreneurship in the MBA community; I certainly recommend reading it if this is a topic of interest to you.

In the article, author Nazanin Lankarani discusses the results of a recent survey (pdf) of applicants as to why they are pursuing an MBA.  The results were astonishing – almost 30% of the respondents cited “starting own business” as a prime aspiration, a statistic that is up approximately 25% from the last survey in 2006.  The author also points out another interesting statistic – the prime aspiration “improving career prospects” has dropped significantly from the last survey (66.2 percent in 2009, 73 percent in 2006).  This made me think about two things on my Wednesday morning coffee break. First, what are the prime aspirations for current UST MBA students? And second, what are my applicant’s prime aspirations for obtaining an MBA? Continue Reading