Business for Social Impact
In the late 1990s, SEI hosted a research conference on business leadership in the social sector and developed a new MBA course focused on strategic corporate citizenship. Five years later, SEI launched an Executive Education program on Corporate Social Responsibility.
In 2005, an SEI research conference on business solutions to global poverty convened more than 120 academic, business, nonprofit, and government leaders from around the world. This conference led to the publication of a book, the development of an MBA elective course, and the creation of an Executive Education program for leaders in the microfinance industry.
Research Spotlight: Business for Social Impact
In the spring of 2014, the Social Enterprise Initiative hosted a research forum on Business for Social Impact, convening more than 100 practitioners and academics to discuss the global role of business in creating social change.
- Read more about the conference sessions and participant reflections in the Business for Social Impact Forum Summary Report (pdf)
- See "Social Impact Investing" videos of Business for Social Impact Forum participants
- See Impact Investing Course Module (pdf), with cases, supplementary readings, and a brief teaching rationale.
MBA Course Spotlight: Business at the Base of the Pyramid (B-BOP)
Business at the Base of the Pyramid (B-BOP) seeks to provide an understanding of how business approaches can address low income segments, often the largest components of emerging markets (both in terms of population as well as total expenditure) but nevertheless severely underserved. The course specifically explores the factors behind the commercial viability of such markets and examines the impact of business models on the social and economic development of the societies involved, i.e. the creation of financial returns and the generation or destruction of social value. B-BOP views low income populations as both consumers of goods and services (from healthcare, water and financial products to toiletries and electronics) and as economic agents in value chains (such as in agriculture and dairy industry). The course is comprised of four major modules, and cases cover Africa, Asia and the Americas.
“I always wanted to work in the developing world. (B-BOP) provided me with the context and framework to be successful.”
Guelmana Rochelin Founder and CEO, Mana S.A.MBA 2007
Kash Rangan Professor
“B-BOP looks at how businesses can tap into opportunities at the base of the pyramid markets and provide services and employment that uplifts people's lives.”
Shawn Cole Associate Professor
“Among other areas, we focus a lot on the numbers to be sure that these are not only businesses that feel good but businesses that can succeed over time.”
Michael Chu Senior Lecturer
“B-BOP examines the fundamental questions around why a business succeeds or fails at the base of the pyramid and how to manage to success.”
Alumni Making an Impact
1999Kanter, R.M. "From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as Beta Site for Business Innovation," Harvard Business Review 77, No. 3 (May—June 1999). (Reprinted in Harvard Business Review on Innovation, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2001.)
2004Austin, James E. "Strategic Alliances: The Power of Partnering Between Nonprofits and Businesses," Social Enterprise Faculty Seminar Series: Harvard Business Publishing, October 2004.
2005Austin, James E., Dutch Leonard, Ezequiel Reficco, and Jane Wei-Skillern. Corporate Social Entrepreneurship: A New Vision for CSR, In The Accountable Corporation. Vol. 2, edited by Marc J. Epstein and Kirk O. Hanson. Praeger, 2005.
2006Leonard, Herman B. and V. Kasturi Rangan. "Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy and Boards of Directors," Directors & Boards 3, No. 4 (First Quarter, Winter 2006).
2006Porter, Michael E. and Mark R. Kramer. "Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility," Harvard Business Review, December 2006.
2007Rangan, V. Kasturi, John A. Quelch, Gustavo Herrero, and Brooke Barton. Business Solutions for the Global Poor: Creating Social and Economic Value, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.
2007Chu, Michael. "Commercial Returns at the Base of the Pyramid," Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization (Winter—Spring 2007), 115—146.
2008Petkoski, Djordjija B., V. Kasturi Rangan, and William S. Laufer. "Business and Poverty: Opening Markets to the Poor," Development Outreach (June 2008).
2008Austin, James E. and Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard. "Can the Virtuous Mouse and the Wealthy Elephant Live Happily Ever After?," California Management Review 51, No. 1 (Fall 2008), 77—102.
2009Rangan, V. Kasturi. Business at the Base of the Pyramid, Social Enterprise Faculty Seminar Series: Harvard Business Publishing, July 2009.
2009Corporate Social Entrepreneurship (James Austin and Ezequiel Reficco, 2009) Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 09-101, March 2009.
2009Kanter, Rosabeth M. Supercorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Opportunity, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, New York: Crown Business, 2009.
2010Eccles, Robert G. and Michael P. Krzus. One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010.
2011Porter, Michael E. and Mark R. Kramer. "Creating Shared Value," Harvard Business Review 89, Nos. 1—2 (January—February 2011).
2011Bower, Joseph L., Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine. "Global Capitalism at Risk: What Are You Doing About It?," Harvard Business Review 89, No. 9 (September 2011).
2011Rangan, V. Kasturi, Michael Chu, and Djorjiji Petkoski. "Segmenting the Base of the Pyramid," Harvard Business Review 89, No. 6 (June 2011).
2012Bower, Joseph L., Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine. "Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business," Harvard Business Review Press, 2011.
2012Why Every Company Needs a CSR Strategy and How to Build It (Kash Rangan, Lisa Chase, and Sohel Karim, 2012) Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-088, April 2012.
2013How the Zebra Got Its Stripes: Imprinting of Individuals and Hybrid Social Ventures (Matthew Lee and Julie Battilana, 2013) Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-005, July 2013.
2014Ebrahim, Alnoor, and V. Kasturi Rangan. "What Impact? A Framework for Measuring the Scale & Scope of Social Performance," California Management Review 56, no. 3 (Spring 2014): 118-141.
2014Rangan, V. Kasturi, Lisa Chase, and Sohel Karim"The Truth About CSR," Harvard Business Review 93, no. 1/2 (January-February 2015): 40-49.
Starbucks and Conservation International, (Austin, James E. and Cate Reavis, 2002). Subjects covered include: environmental protection, purchasing, social responsibility, and strategic alliances.
Sustainable Development at Shell (A), (Wei-Skillern, Jane, 2003). Subjects covered include: business ethics, entrepreneurship, globalization, innovation, leadership, multinational corporations, social enterprise, and strategy formulation.
Timberland: Commerce and Justice, (Austin, James E., Herman B. Leonard, and James W. Quinn, 2004). Subjects covered include: business models, globalization, innovation, partnerships, and philanthropies.
Unilever in India: Hindustan Lever's Project Shakti—Marketing FMCG to the Rural Consumer, (Rangan, V. Kasturi and Rohithari Rajan, 2005). Subjects covered include: consumer marketing, innovation, and target markets.
Farmacias Similares: Private and Public Health Care for the Base of the Pyramid in Mexico, (Chu, Michael and Regina Garcia Cuellar, 2007). Subjects covered include: health care policy and social enterprise.
Manila Water Company, (Rangan, V. Kasturi, 2007). Subjects covered include: customer service, infrastructure, privatization, and social responsibility.
Banco Compartamos: Life after the IPO, (Chu, Michael and Regina Garcia Cuellar, 2008). Subjects covered include: developing countries and microfinance.
Gilead Sciences, Inc.: Access Program, (Rangan, V. Kasturi and Katharine Lee, 2009). Subjects covered include: competitive strategy, distribution, emerging markets, intellectual capital, and sales.
PNC Financial: Grow Up Great, (Marquis, Christopher, V. Kasturi Rangan, and Alison Comings, 2009). Subjects covered include: community relations, leadership, and partners.
B Lab: Building a New Sector of the Economy, (Marquis, Christopher, Andrew Klaber, and Bobbi Thomason, 2010). Subjects covered include: entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and social responsibility.
Bridge International Academies: A School in a Box, (Rangan, V. Kasturi and Katherine Lee, 2010). Subjects covered include: entrepreneurship, franchises, social enterprise, and strategic planning.
Grameen Danone Foods Ltd., a Social Business, (Rangan, V. Kasturi, and Katharine Lee, 2010). Subjects covered include: distribution, entrepreneurship, sales, social responsibility, and supply chain management.