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.

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.

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, a venture created by NIU business and engineering students. Light Up Africa went onto 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.

CAUSE, the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs, is a student organization focused on providing students with the inspiration, skills, experiences, and networks needed to make a social impact through innovation and entrepreneurial pursuits.

As a leader in undergraduate education in social entrepreneurship, NIU faculty speak at national conferences and are active members of other organizations promoting social entrepreneurship education, such as the Midwest University Consortium of Social Innovation.

For more information, contact NIU's Department of Management at 815.753.1124 or