Last march, we decided to realize an idea, probably a dream, that had been torturing our consciences – mine in particular – for a long time, a platform where social entrepreneurs and members of the IESE community could meet and collaborate on social projects.
We knew it would be a disaster for our already overbooked agendas but a voice was reminding us almost continuously of the importance of this project for our School. It was an ambitious idea and maybe a bit naïve: how could we bring social entrepreneurs together.
So, on March 2015 we launched the Social Entrepreneurship Network. As the website reports, the objective of this initiative is: “to connect the IESE community (students, participants, alumni, academic and non-academic staff) with social enterprises that pursue social objectives consistent with IESE values”.
After 6 months of activity we can say the Social Entrepreneurship Network is a success. We have already supported over 30 projects of social enterprises and NGOs operating in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
We have to admit that we are impressed by the enthusiasm of our community. For example, this summer, Isabel, an MBA student, has used her vacations to go to Columbia and collaborate with ACTEC, a Belgian NGO, on a project that educates local entrepreneurs.
I for one have also seen the dedication of the MBA students in the Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship course contribute to 13 (thirteen!!!) different projects.
For example, some of them are helping Social Forest develop a marketing and communication plan. Social Forest is a German-Spanish social enterprise that achieves two social objectives at the same time: preserving forests and providing jobs to people with problems of social inclusion.
Others are helping Bybelne, a social enterprise located in Girona that provides work opportunities and support to elders, and Koiki, a company that reduces carbon emissions using people with different (dis-)abilities to deliver packages in urban areas.
Some curious people have already asked what our next objectives will be. After some thought I can foresee three main short-medium term objectives:
- First, scaling up our operations by leveraging our fantastic alumni community all over the world. A special message to IESE Alumni: your support is super welcome, please, enroll in our IESE Social Entrepreneurship Network!
- Second, working tirelessly to nourish a culture of responsibility and activism in our economy.
- Third, preparing the ingredients for a contagious effect of the “traditional economy” to make it more socially aware and sincerely committed.