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MBAs are making a difference as social entrepreneurs

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Most MBA candidates think about making a difference in the world, whether it’s through their professional ventures, or in their free time as a community volunteer. But not every student takes the additional step of launching a post-graduate career solely focused on improving their environment through a socially focused organisation. A burgeoning trend among MBAs is low-cost, high-impact social ventures, dedicating their professional skillsets and experiences to turning an intangible profit. For some, the return on an emotional investment can be fulfilling, challenging, and a worthy career change.

The academic knowledge, lessons learned, and skill set gained as an MBA student still apply to everyday operations at a social venture. Even if you aren’t working at a for-profit organization, the basic business management principles in finance, marketing, and accounting will come in handy on a daily basis. These non-profit groups still create budgets and raise capital. They create marketing materials to grow their client base. They assess opportunities based on financial fit and viability. And ultimately, keeping the venture going depends on the long-term planning and strategic guidance of the leadership team.

he rise of MBAs as social entrepreneurs indicates a growing population of individuals who seek opportunities to apply their professional abilities to assist others

Business schools are recognising the roles that MBAs play in building social ventures, creating formalised programmes to support students and providing resources for students looking to launch new non-profit organisations. Loan assistance programmes can help reduce the amount of student loan dollars for students entering the nonprofit world, breaking down traditional barriers that might have kept graduates out of this functional area. Other MBA programmes provide scholarships, projects and electives, and supplemental activities for motivated students. Between the variety of social entrepreneurship-focused classes, seed money for potential non-profit organisations, and structured support for students, graduates and professionals have a myriad of opportunities to truly address issues in their communities.

Even if you’re not ready to dedicate your career to the nonprofit sector, consider a new breed of companies that straddle the line of both a “social” focus and a more traditional “entrepreneurship” focus. There are dozens of socially conscious food companies that dedicate a portion of profits to a good cause, or sell consumables based on a fair-trade or eco-friendly platform. These opportunities will likely grow in scope and range as the sector continues to grow. Working professionals can achieve a balance between making a difference and building a fulfilling career without compromising.

The rise of MBAs as social entrepreneurs indicates a growing population of individuals who seek opportunities to apply their professional abilities to assist others. These roles allow MBA graduates to use the skills and knowledge gained at business school to address inequalities or opportunities in the community, proving that it’s quite possible to do-good and build a solid resume at the same time.

*Image courtesy of anankkmi / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Donna Lin Niles

Donna Lin Niles received an MBA in 2009 from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland - College Park, and has worked in sales and marketing ever since. She is a freelance writer and editor covering a variety of business topics.

 

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