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MBA Schools Step Up Efforts To Embrace Social Entrepreneurship, Non-Profits

Chicago Booth latest to support non-profit, government sectors

By  Seb Murray

Mon Jan 18 2016

Chicago’s Booth School of Business has announced a new scholarship program designed to support executives in the non-profit and government sectors — the latest sign that elite MBA schools are embracing careers that pack social impact.

The new Civic Scholars Program, funded in part by a $4 million gift from the Neubauer Family Foundation, will provide full tuition scholarships every year to Chicago Booth’s Weekend MBA for eight professionals working in the third sector.

Students in the program will continue working full-time as they pursue their degrees.

“This is an opportunity to strengthen the development of future leaders from the public and non-profit sectors,” said Joseph Neubauer, a Booth MBA alumnus.

“The same leadership skills are required to run all enterprises, regardless of sector.”

Sunil Kumar, Chicago Booth dean, added: “This will help the school broaden its impact into these sectors, by building a community of talented and well-trained alumni.”

Traditionally the public and non-profit sectors are underrepresented in MBA programs.

But, increasingly, MBA students have shown a willingness to work in areas with a positive impact on society, such as non-profits, impact investing, and sustainability consulting.

“Career opportunities for MBAs that want to make a positive impact on society are nearly limitless,” said Erin Worsham, director of social entrepreneurship at the Fuqua School of Business.

Companies are increasingly offering students more opportunities to “do good”. “There is growth in social impact practices at places like McKinsey,” said Ben Mangan, executive director of the Center for Social Sector Leadership at California’s Haas School of Business.

“And you have big firms like Deloitte and others that give full credit to young consultants who work on pro bono projects.”

Wally Hopp, professor and senior associate dean for faculty and research at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, stressed that “you can make profit and do socially good things at the same time”.

Meanwhile, b-schools have strived to provide for applicants and students interested in pursuing social entrepreneurship.

INSEAD in December last year launched the Soraya Salti Social Impact Scholarship Fund, which will develop young female social entrepreneurs from the Middle East, South Asia and African regions. The same month, University of Edinburgh Business School pledged to build a hub for business, policy and society.

“Many of our MBA students believe that entrepreneurship is a way to make a difference in the world,” said Jeff Reid, who set-up the Entrepreneurship Initiative at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Ignasi Carreras, director of the Institute for Social Innovation at ESADE Business School, agreed, saying: “Students think they can have a big contribution to society by setting up their own social companies.”

Daniela Papi-Thornton, deputy director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford Saïd, believes this represents shifting career aspirations.

“The biggest investment banks used to have lines around the block from the most ambitious students. That is no longer the case,” she said.