Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is an increasingly important way to generate public value and solve societal problems. Social entrepreneurship is about individuals who see opportunities for new products and/or services and implement these, as an answer to societal challenges that existing governments, companies and NGOs are not yet addressing sufficiently. They realize this in a transparent manner and with a philosophy that does justice to all stakeholders. Social entrepreneurs can set up initiatives in the neighbourhood, start their own business, or develop initiatives within larger organizations.

This minor brings together economic, managerial, organizational and institutional knowledge about social entrepreneurship and gives you a thorough grounding in this new form of entrepreneurship and how to facilitate this. This knowledge can be of use as a future entrepreneur, as a policymaker, or as a co-designer of the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Social entrepreneurship: a broad economy, governance and organization
Although social entrepreneurship is trending, it is not a simple matter in practice. It requires relevant knowledge and insight from entrepreneurs and it also requires innovative forms of policy and governance from governments. This means that those involved in social entrepreneurship in practice need specific knowledge. Think about social innovation, investment and measurement of social impact, developing a business model, the appropriate legal form for an organization, and creating an innovative organizational culture that aligns well with the mission.

The core of this minor is provided by the Departments of Economics and Governance and Organization.  They have the knowledge to teach you about social entrepreneurship because this form of entrepreneurship requires insights into (business) economic processes and dynamics in management and organization. In addition, the minor makes explicit use of the knowledge within the UU platform 'Bottom-up Initiatives for Societal Change', part of the overall research theme Institutions for Open Societies.

Social enterprises combine social objectives with a commercial business process: commercial activities are not an end in themselves, but a means to create public value. Think for example of Tony's Chocolonely, Utrecht based brewery Maximus or Veja sneakers:

Tony's Chocolonely is a company that makes tasty chocolate, Utrecht brewery Maximus crafts good beer and Veja offers well-designed sneakers. But making a profit is not the first priority of these companies. The goal of Tony's Chocolonely is to ensure that all chocolate is produced without adopting practices of the worst forms of child labour. Brewery Maximus and Veja are examples of a learning-working company that guides people who have not worked for a long time (but would like to) to a regular job. Veja combines this with sustainable and circular production techniques. For these companies, financial profit and public values are not contradictory concepts but can be tied together. However, at the same time serving stakeholders who focus on both aspects leads to tensions: how do you deal with this as an entrepreneur, which choices do you make and how can you, as a professional, further stimulate the movement of social entrepreneurship from within your organization? The Dutch government, has announced that social entrepreneurship will be further stimulated. One way this is being done is through the introduction of the BVm, a legal regulation that allows entrepreneurs to opt for a social BV. This decision has been partly influenced by UU research.

I-did in Utrecht is another example of a company that helps people who have never worked or have not worked for a long time to get back to work. Through coaching and guidance, they prepare them for a full-fledged place in society. At the same time, they collect old textiles - such as company clothing or consumer clothing - to make recycled felt. Participants work independently to produce beautiful bags, interiors and accessories from recycled felt. To scale up impact, they work with Ikea, which itself has developed a program to encourage social entrepreneurship and sustainability.