The Edwards School of Business mission statement is to develop business professionals to build nations. But how do they hope to achieve this goal without offering students educational opportunities that allow them to do more than just climb the corporate ladder or create financially successful businesses?
ESB only offers a handful of courses with a social focus that exposes students to alternative business models, and is currently teaching students an outdated business model where the only measure for success is profit.
University of Saskatchewan colleges should be doing more than just fostering entrepreneurs who can create and maintain financially successful businesses — they should be fostering social entrepreneurs who can solve the ever-growing environmental and social problems in our world.
So what is a social entrepreneur and what do they do? Social entrepreneurs develop solutions that create systemic change to solve social problems. These professionals look to create positive changes through building businesses that seek to do social good in the world and believe they can earn a profit doing it.
Past entrepreneurs saw inefficiencies and inconveniences in the way a product or service was being made and delivered to consumers. They saw these inefficiencies as an opportunity to improve upon a service or a product in a new innovative way that was more efficient and effective.
Social entrepreneurs tackle problems that aren’t just an inconvenience to modern lives but rather problems that are a detriment to the lives of the world’s most marginalized populations. They provide market solutions to our generations most challenging issues and they are change makers who will provide the world’s poor with access to affordable education and health care while addressing social inequalities and poverty.
Top business schools across Canada such as the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business and McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management are adding classes and creating environments that incubate and nurture social conscious business ideas.
At the University of Waterloo, students with social-minded business ideas such as assurance of water quality, sanitation and gender equality are entering residency programs. These educational endeavors are providing students with the mentoring and knowledge needed to be able to scale towards their startups.
Notably, students from McGill won $1,000,000 in 2013 from former president Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative Foundation to grow their business, which aims to provide insect-infused flour and other insect-based food products to the world’s poor. Their venture will provide people with access to a nutrient rich affordable food source that is high in protein and iron.
With help from the Students Federated Union’s social entrepreneurship accelerator, students at Simon Fraser University started a social venture that provides teaching jobs for female newcomers to Canada. These jobs afforded these women the opportunity to share their unique skills and knowledge of ethnic cuisine, and in turn allowed them to build their confidence and earn money while doing it. Having this confidence is an essential skill required in the Canadian job market.
If the U of S does not innovate and modernize its business school, it will fail to develop future business professionals to “build nations” as determined in the Edward’s mission statement. The university must provide students with an environment that encourages students to solve social problems.
Providing students with access to mentors that have experience in the unique challenges social ventures startups face is crucial. These mentors will be able to provide them with the right knowledge to incubate their ideas and become successful social entrepreneurs.
Educators will no longer praise companies solely based on their financial success but rather their blend of metrics that may include profitability but also their social impact. The U of S needs to learn from these other schools in Canada and provide students with educational opportunities which show students that doing good in the world can be a profitable business model.
Graphic: Stephanie Mah