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Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship at NIU

Social entrepreneurship is an emerging field focused on addressing the world's most pressing social problems, including hunger and poverty, violence and gender inequalities, and lack of access to clean water or educational opportunities, just to name a few. Social entrepreneurs engage the market and apply their business skills to develop creative revenue-generating solutions in their pursuit of significantly changing the systems that perpetuate these problems.

Read the story about how NIU students are changing the world through NIU's social entrepreneurship program. At NIU, students can study social entrepreneurship with national leaders in the field.

The undergraduate certificate in social entrepreneurship helps students develop the entrepreneurial skills related to the unique features of building and sustaining ventures to generate economic, social, and environmental change and the role of microfinance organizations.

The minor in social entrepreneurship allows students the opportunity to learn and apply entrepreneurial skills to solving some of the world's most challenging problems through the creation of sustainable social enterprises. Students participate in social venture consulting and compete for seed money in the social venture competition.

NIU sponsors social venture competitions to help students launch new social businesses to address social problems. NIU's Social Venture Competition class helped launch Light Up Africa (LUA), a venture created by NIU business and engineering students. Light Up Africa went on to be named a semi-finalist in Dell's Social Innovation Challenge and won a coveted spot in the 2012 inaugural class of Impact Engine, a social business accelerator in Chicago, in its efforts to reduce reliance on dangerous and expensive sources of light in Kenya.

Courses in Social Entrepreneurship

  • MGMT 311 Social Entrepreneurship introduces students to the factors that support the development and growth of sustainable ventures to generate economic, social, and environmental change. Students will learn about the social value proposition, sustainable business models, and management practices used in creating social enterprises.

  • MGMT 327 Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship introduces students to the methods used to identify opportunities and construct innovative market solutions to generate economic and social value. Students will learn techniques to identify opportunities, generate and evaluate business ideas, and develop and sell their innovative new venture ideas.

  • MGMT 411 Entrepreneurship in Microfinance Organizations introduces students to the microfinance and microcredit industries. Students will gain insights into the purpose, management and effects of microfinance organizations and learn about the methods used to create sustainable and scalable businesses to help reduce global poverty.

  • MGMT 421 Global Social Venture Consulting enables students to recognize, evaluate and create innovative business models to apply to social ventures in the global environment. Understanding and applying the various aspects of a business model are emphasized, with the intent of developing students' abilities to recognize opportunities for social ventures, develop creative approaches to help solve global social problems, and engage in consulting practices with social entrepreneurs. With a richer understanding of the business model and its application to social entrepreneurs, students will be able to strengthen their capabilities to organize and participate in the social venture space.

  • MGMT 431 Social Venture Competition helps students develop knowledge and capabilities to create an innovative business model and develop a business plan to launch a new social venture. The course will enable students to identify and evaluate a social need and market opportunity and develop a business plan using an array of venture practices critical for success. Students will gain insights into commercial, social, and technological factors to leverage for more effective venture outcomes.