The Social Enterprise Track is open to students in good standing who are enrolled in a full-time graduate degree program at Harvard University. Each team must meet both of the two following qualifications:

  1. Include at least one person who meets one of the following criteria:
    • HBS MBA student
    • Current Center for Public Leadership Graduate Fellow; or Adrian Cheng Fellow (graduate students only).
    • Full-time Harvard graduate student enrolled in one of the following courses during the academic year in which the Competition is held. * For the 2021 Competition, we are making case-by-case exceptions for part-time students due to COVID-19. Before registering, please contact with your specific circumstances, for evaluation of your eligibility.
      Course Listing
      • Building Sustainable Cities (HBS)
      • Business at the Base of the Pyramid (HBS)
      • Changing the World: Life Choices of Influential Leaders (HBS)
      • Climate Solutions Living Lab (HLS)
      • Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Problems (Multiple Schools)
      • Education Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Comparative Perspective (HGSE)
      • Entrepreneurial Finance (HBS)
      • Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Private and Social Sectors (HKS)
      • Entrepreneurship Education (HGSE)
      • Entrepreneurship in the Education Marketplace (HGSE)
      • Field Course: Arts and Cultural Entrepreneurship (HBS)
      • Field Course: Lab to Market (HBS)
      • Field Course: Scaling Minority Businesses (HBS)
      • Global Climate Change (HBS)
      • Grand Challenges for Entrepreneurs (HBS)
      • Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Health Care (HSPH)
      • Innovation by Design: Projects in Educational Technology (HGSE)
      • Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Learning (HGSE)
      • Managing Change and Transformation (HBS)
      • Managing the Future of Work (HBS)
      • Power and Influence (HBS)
      • Private Capital for Public Purpose: Impact Investing and Its Siblings (HKS)
      • Public Entrepreneurship (HBS)
      • Purpose & Profit (HBS)
      • Purpose-Driven Marketing
      • Reimagining Capitalism: Business and Big Problems (HBS)
      • Risks, Opportunities, And Investments In The Era Of Climate Change
      • Social and Sustainable Innovation Driven by the Sustainable Development Goals (HSPH)
      • Social Entrepreneurship and Systems Change (HBS)
      • Social Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprises 101: How to Go from Start-Up to End Up (HKS)
      • Sustainable Investing (HBS)
      • The Role of Government in Market Economies (HBS)
      • Transforming Education Through Emerging Technologies (HGSE)
      • Transforming Education Through Social Entrepreneurship (HBS)

      • Harvard graduate students enrolled in other related Harvard graduate school courses may contact the Social Enterprise Initiative for a case-by-case review of the course to determine potential eligibility.
  2. Be composed of a majority of graduate students of Harvard University, and these members must have meaningful roles in the venture and the Competition presentation.

    It is recommended that students participate on only one team. Any students interested in participating on more than one team should contact the Social Enterprise Initiative before entering the Competition.

    RC teams (i.e. any team with a first-year, RC, student) may not enter the New Venture Competition with the same idea used for their Field III project.

Plan Requirements

The Social Enterprise Track seeks business plans that meet the following criteria:

  • A project which has as a key component of its activities the creation of social value in a significant and sustained manner.
  • The Competition is designed for projects that are in either the concept or pilot phase, meaning those that have not yet started regular operations and/or those that are testing initial concepts through basic pilot operations. Eligibility will be reviewed by the Review Committee based on the parameters outlined below and its decisions are final.
    • Revenues or donations since inception (either earned or contributed) are generally $100,000 or less
    • Operation began no earlier than February 1 of the year prior to the Competition
    • Full-time equivalent employee head count is no greater than 1.0
    • Project is a standalone effort and operates independently of existing organizations (including, but not limited to, resources, governance, management, staff, and infrastructure)
  • The project can be a nonprofit, for-profit or hybrid model.
  • The project can only be entered in one track of the New Venture Competition (e.g. Social Enterprise or Business).

Living within the Community Standards & Student Honor Code

Multiple students in multiple courses working on the same project naturally raises issues related to ownership of the work product and attribution of efforts for grading. While the business plan entry itself is not graded as part of the Competition, students are nonetheless directed to be sensitive to the issues raised by such projects. Specifically, if the business plan (or research products that underpin it) will be submitted to more than one faculty member as part of an HBS paper or project for credit, students must complete the form for “Required Disclosure Of Multiple Papers/Presentations” to the various faculty members involved. (This form is available in Spangler Center.) Note that any student projects and business plan submissions that are found to be in violation of these requirements will be disqualified from the Competition, and students may be subject to further disciplinary action, under the Community Standards.