M.B.A.s who want to save the world

Social entrepreneurs aim to use business skills to do more than just make money

COLIN CAMPBELL September 22 2008

M.B.A.s who want to save the world

Social entrepreneurs aim to use business skills to do more than just make money

COLIN CAMPBELL September 22 2008

M.B.A.s who want to save the world

Social entrepreneurs aim to use business skills to do more than just make money


When Brendan Baker applied to the M.B.A. program at the prestigious Said Business School at the University of Oxford, getting accepted turned out to be the simple part. The real challenge for the 28-year-old from Vancouver: coming up with $90,000 to cover tuition and living costs, and just two months before the start of classes this fall. For a lot of M.B.A.s setting their sights on high-paying jobs at consulting firms and investment banks, that’s a problem easily solved with a bank loan. Not so for Baker, who plans to do a very different kind of M.B.A. He wants to study in a growing field known as social entrepreneurship.

Often dubbed the “do-gooders’ M.B.A.,” social entrepreneurship is about turning the hard skills of business school toward more altruistic ends, such as fighting poverty or improving the lot of the less fortunate. It’s business, but with a social agenda. Or it’s charity, but run like a business. It’s also a career path more likely to land Baker a job launching small social ventures in the developing world than raking in a six-figure salary on Bay Street. “People like me tend to fall into a little bit of a gap where it’s tough to justify the cost [of an M.B.A.] and there are very few scholarships available,” says Baker, speaking from a

library at the University of Cambridge, where’s he finishing another master’s degree.

Baker, an engineer by training who has worked for Engineers Without Borders, is taking a big risk. Unable to raise so much money in such a short time, his Oxford plans are still up in the air. But he’s just one of thousands of new M.B.A.s and M.B.A. hopefuls— from Canada, the U.S. and around the world— who are eager to make a similar leap, whether that involves bringing entrepreneurial best practices to a non-profit in the developed world or lending newly acquired marketing or finance skills to communities and small businesses in the Third World.

There’s no hard data on just how big social entrepreneurship is, but the demand is there and growing fast, says Tal Dehtiar, president of the Canadian-based MBAs Without Borders (MWB). Modelled on groups such as Doctors Without Borders, which has long sent physicians to global crisis zones, MWB is an international organization that places grads with M.B.A.-level business skills in places that need them, from India to Ecuador. “Last year alone we had over 2,000 M.B.A.s applying for 23 projects,” adds Dehtiar.

Dehtiar, along with colleague Michael Brown, founded the organization four years ago, after earning his M.B.A. from DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. “While I was doing my M.B.A. I thought, all this knowledge is great but there’s got to be a different way to use it.” Dehtiar had already spent a year building a small non-profit in

Costa Rica and an agribusiness in Belize, and saw a market for an organization that could bring young business graduates together with communities in need. The organization, for instance, recently sent one M.B.A. to Ethiopia, where he spent three months helping 31 coffee co-operatives organize themselves to have their beans certified as fair trade. The end result was over $100,000 in new revenue for the coffee farmers this year alone.

This fall, MWB is embarking on a tour of Canadian business schools to talk to students about the social impact business can have. Dehtiar says soaring demand from students is driving his organization and others like it, with business schools responding to a changing market: “We’re not forcing this on people. They’re saying ‘give us more.’ ” Dehtiar used to work in sales for a pharmaceutical company, and he says the loss in earnings that comes with the job is ultimately a small price to pay for the personal rewards of his line of work. “I was making about a hundred grand; now, I’m not making close to as much—but I love every day of the job.”

Three years ago, Bangladeshi economist Mohammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work with microcredit—a way of fighting poverty and spurring investment by offering tiny loans to poor people without access to traditional banks. In doing so, Yunus became perhaps the most wellknown social entrepreneur, and helped turn the field into the latest business buzzword. But despite its rising popularity, defining pre-


Nearly three dozen Canadian universities offer M.B.A. degrees, and the traditional M.B.A.—two years, full-time—is no longer the only way to go about getting the credential. Tuitions have climbed sharply over the past decade at most universities, but there are still bargains to be found.

Average Tuition Tuition Program Length Enrolment Female Int'l GMAT Score (Canadian students) (Int'l students) (months) % % Alberta 585+ $24,251 $46,083 16 99+ 36%+ 54%+ UBC (Sauder) 635 $38,967 $38,967 15 244 32% 58% Brock 600 $7,862-15,724* $18,189-36,378* 8 to 20 40 30% 13% Calgary (Haskayne) 620+ $25,841...... 554,899 20 2Ï9+ 35%+ 33%+ Cape Breton (Shannon) 540 $18,944 $28,000 12 58 52% 34% Carleton (Sprott) 600 $10,783 $26,121 16 110 40% 30% Concordia (Molson) 618+ $4,964-$6,056*/** $20,645-$25,790* 12 to 24 307+ 35%+ 11%+ Dalhousie 590 $16,000 $23,260 10 to 20 50 40% 20% Guelph N/A $25,000 $28,000 12 15 40% 20% HEC Montréal 600+ $6,200** $26,600 12 172+ 33%+ 45%+ Lansbridge N/A $20,000 $20,000 US 30 105 25% 3% Laurentian 570+ $7,953 $15,906 $17,123-534,246 8 to 20 35+ 20%+ 57%+ Laval N/A $3,619** $17,416 12 to 16 281 + 40%+ 55%+ Manitoba (Asper) 585 $19,100 $28,000 11 73 40% 14% McGill (Desautels) 650 $3,176** $36,720 16to20 121 33% 46% McMaster (DeGroote) 623+ $Ï2,000-$31,000* $25,112-557,225* 8 to 28 203+ 36%+ 9%+ Memorial 610+ $4,400 $5,700 20 30+ 63%+ 40%+ Moncton N/A $10,468-510,913* $16,761-$17,072* 24 68+ 24%+ 48%+ New Brunswick-Fredericton 560 $16,800 $21,467 20 54 45% 20% New Brunswick-Saint John 560 $18,000 $24,500 12 30 45% 70% Ottawa (Telfer) 617+ $16,800 $26,900 12 50+ 47%+ 29%+ Queen's 674 $60,000 $65,000 12 75 24% 49% Regina (Levene) 560 $13,000 $14,000 8 to 12 36 30% 14% Ryerson (Rogers) 615 $13,200 $18,700* $15,600-522,100* 12 to 16 80 36% 16% Saint Mary's (Sobey) 590 $9,000-$14,300* $18,700-$27,000* 12 to 20 115 40% 35% Saskatchewan (Edwards) 510 $23,550 $31,750 12 33 37% 16% Sherbrooke N/A $3,581** $9,548 16 36 36% 36% Simon Fraser (Segal) 615 $27,000 $32,500* $27,000 $32,500* 12 to 16 135 49% 30% Toronto (Rotman) 659 $63,078 $86,553 20 545 28% 37% Victoria 547 $28,948 $30,825 17 83 53% 33% Western (Ivey) 660 $62,000 $72,000 12 175 28% 30% Wilfrid Laurier 630 $20,000 $25,725 12 85 32% 10% Windsor (Odette) 600 $12,000 $30,000 13 80 40% 25% York (Schuiich) 661 $22,500-544,088* $30,000-560,000* 8 to 20 600 32% 55%

Information is for the 2008-2009 academic year unless indicated otherwise. Enrolment figures are for full-time students. *Tuition varies depending on length/type of program. **Tuition fees for Quebec residents; out-of-province tuition is higher. +2007 figure. +2006 figure. Source: Canadian universities.


Targeted at people who already have a career but want to take it to the next level by earning an advanced degree, executive M.B.A. programs normally allow their participants to remain at their jobs, pursuing the degree part-time. Tuition, often covered by employers, is generally high.

Average Age (CDN $) (months) % % Alberta-Calgary (Alberta/Haskayne EMBA) 37 $55,000 20 30% 21% Athabasca 40 $42,000 28-32 34% .......................5%............. UBC (Sauder) 38 $55,000-$65,000* 15 75% .......................0% Concordia (Molson) 37 $52,000 15 23%.............. ......................23%........... Guelph 37 $38,500** 36 43%.............. .......................7%............. Lansbridge N/A $22,000 20-30 20% .......................2%............. McGill-HEC Montréal (McGill-HEC Montréal EMBA) 41 $65,000 15 41%.............. ......................N/A............ Ottawa (Telfer) 44 $59,500 20 44%.............. ......................41%........... Université du Québec à Montréal 35 $4,885 24 40% 30%........... Queen's/Queen's-Cornelí 37 $75,000-592,000* 15-18 32% ......................28%........... Regina (Levene) 42 529,000 18 20% .......................o%............. Royal Roads 40 $135,060** 24 43%.............. .......................4%............. Saint Mary's (Sobey) 38 $40,000 22 23%.............. .......................9%............. Sherbrooke 37 $21,000-527,000* 18-22 25% ......................N/A Simon Fraser (Segaij 37 $47,500 19 30% .....................0%............. Toronto (Rotman) 38 $80,000-$85,000 13-18 25% ......................40%........... Western (iveyj 38 $85,000 15 25% ......................25%........... Windsor (Odette) 36 $22,000-$41,000* 10-22 36% .......................2%............. York-Northwestern (Kellogg Schuiich EMBA) 38 $100,000 18 26% ......................58%........ 1 Tuition varies depending on length/type of program. ** Tuition differs for international students: $42,550 at Guelph; $52,590 at Royal Roads. Source: Canadian universities

cisely what social entrepreneurship involves can be tricky. Most economists agree that the point of a business, particularly a publicly traded company, is simple: to maximize profits and make money for investors. But social entrepreneurship turns that approach on its head. Profits become merely a means for the enterprise to accomplish its social mission. Unlike the corporate social responsibility movement that swept business schools beginning in the 1990s, and which pushed to make social concerns an important business consideration, a social enterprise makes social concerns the whole point of its business.

In social entrepreneurship, “if you had to

choose between the social and economic outcome, you’d pick the social,” says Ann Armstrong, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and head of the school’s Social Enterprise Initiative. That’s not to say profit doesn’t play a huge role; it does. Unlike a charity, social entrepreneurship is still about hard-nosed competition, improving efficiency and generating a return. All the challenges and rewards of running a successful business still exist. “It’s called profit with a purpose,” says Dehtiar.

One of the big benefits of this approach, say proponents, is that it brings to altruistic ventures the ruthless efficiency of traditional

business—something typically missing from charities, non-profits and government aid agencies. “The ratio of social benefit to invested dollar is often not very good with those organizations,” says Dirk Matten, a professor of corporate social responsibility at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

This concept of a business with some form of social intent isn’t entirely new. The YMCA, more than a century old, has long operated much like a social enterprise, says Gary McPherson, head of the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Alberta School of Business. “They’ve been doing good work with a social mission for




This annual survey of M.B.A. recruiters asked them to rate each school and indicate their plans to recruit there. It also evaluated whether companies are hiring a school's grads for jobs outside the U.S.

Rank Country 1 ESADE Business School Spain 2 IMD Switzerland 3 University of London (London Business School) U.K. 4 Instituto Panamericano de Alta Dirección de Empresa Mexico 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) U.S.A. 6 Columbia University U.S.A. 7 ESSEC Business School France 8 ITESM (EGÀDE Monterrey) Mexico 9 HEC School of Management, Paris France 10 Thunderbird LLSA 11 York University (Schulich) Canada 12 University of Western Ontario (Ivey) Canada 13 University of Chicago LLSA 14 Instituto de Empresa Spain 15 INSEAD France/Singapore 16 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) USA. 17 Bocconi University Italy 18 Erasmus University (Rotterdam) Netherlands 19 University of Navarra (IESE) Spain 20 Northwestern University (Kellogg) USA 24 University of Toronto (Rotman) Canada BUSINESS WEEK RANKING OF NON-U.S. M.B.A. PROGRAMS, 2006 Business Week conducts this ranking of M.B.A. programs every second year, based on surveys of graduates and recruiters, and faculty quality at each school as measured by citations in top academic journals. Rank Country 1 Queen's Canada 2 Western (Ivey) Canada 3 Toronto (Rotman) Canada 4 IMD Switzerland 5 London Business School U.K. 6 INSEAD France/Singapore 7 ESADE Business School Spain 8 University of Navarra (IESE) Spain 9 York (Schulich) Canada 10 HEC Montréal Canada


The Financial Times' M.B.A. rankings, introduced in 1999, were the first major rankings to treat M.B.A. education as a global marketplace, with American schools ranked directly against those from the rest of the world. Many of Canada's M.B.A. programs last year fell sharply in the FT ranking, for the second year in a row. The rankings measure such factors as the employment rate, salaries and career progress of graduates; the opinions of alumni; the diversity (international and female) of students and faculty; as well as faculty quality.

Rank 3 year 2008 avg. rank Country 1 1 University of Pennsylvania Wharton) U.S.A. 2 4 London Business School U.K. 3 .....3..... Columbia Business School U.S.A. 4 .....3..... Stanford University GSB U.S.A. 5 ..... .....3..... Harvard Business School U.S.A 6 .....7..... INSEAD France/Singapore 7 To MIT (Sloan) U.S.A. 8 To Instituto de Empresa Spain 9 .....7..... University of Chicago GSB USA. 10 20 University of Cambridge (Judge) U.K. 11 14 Ceibs China 11 13 University of Navarra (IESE) Spain 13 9 New York University (Stern) U.S.A. 14 14 IMD Switzerland 15 11 Dartmouth College (Tuck) U.S A. 16 12 Yale School of Management U.S.A. 17 N/A Hong Kong UST Business School China 18 19 HEC Paris France 19 19 University of Oxford (Saïd) U.K. 20 N/A Indian School of Business India 21 24 ESADE Business School Spain 22 27 Lancaster U Management School U.K. 22 22 Manchester Business School U.K. 24 20 Northwestern University (Kellogg) U.S.A. 25 20 UCLA (Anderson) USA. 40 30 University of Toronto (Rotman) Canada 48 38 York University (Schulich) Canada 53 42 University of Western Ontario (Ivey) Canada 88 N/A University of Alberta Canada 92 80 University of British Columbia (Sauder) Canada 96 77 McGill University (Desautels) Canada

years,” he says. But, adds McPherson, social entrepreneurship has especially gained traction over the past decade, following a period in the early 1990s when governments were cutting social services, and charities and nonprofits were forced to look for more creative and lasting funding solutions. Nowadays, many philanthropic organizations operate as social enterprises, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a multi-billiondollar charity that, says Matten, “is really run like a business, with targets and goals.” Canadian business schools have been relatively slow to jump on the bandwagon compared to those in the U.S. and Britain, where schools such as Duke and Oxford offer M.B.A. streams with a social entrepreneurship focus. There are no M.B.A. programs in Canada dedicated to the field. But it is very much on the radar screen, and becoming more and more popular, say business school professors. Schulich, which already has a strong, international reputation when it comes to corporate social responsibility, offers courses in social entrepreneurship and has professors who specialize in the area. “You can tailor your degree throughout the program without having to do a separate degree” in social entrepreneurship, says Brenda Zimmerman, head of Schulich’s health industry management program. The University of Toronto’s Rotman School takes a similar approach. Along with courses focusing on social entrepreneurship, it has a consulting group called Rotman NeXus, a non-profit staffed by business students who advise non-profits. Along with its courses, the Richard Ivey School of Business, at the University of Western Ontario, has a number of extra curricular programs with a social bent, including its Leader Project, where 30 to 40 students visit eastern Europe each spring to teach entrepreneurship skills. Recently, students have helped aspiring entrepreneurs in Moldova, Macedonia and Russia developing business plans for “a wedding planning business, the expansion of a chestnut farm and a

snail farm operation,” says Ivey professor Stewart Thornhill, who heads the school’s Institute for Entrepreneurship. Experts say it’s only a matter of time before M.B.A. programs specializing in social entrepreneurship start popping up across the country.

That expectation is fuelled by the fact that this movement (unlike other biz trends before it, like e-business and ethics) is being driven by a new generation of students eager to make money while leaving a positive mark on the

world. Twenty years ago, doing social and charitable work was something you did on the side, but now M.B.A.s “want to see much greater integration between their causes and the way they make money,” says Zimmerman. At the same time, this field doesn’t involve taking a vow of poverty and living like Mother Theresa. “I don’t want to be dirt poor. It’s about finding the balance for me, and having the freedom to do what I want to do,” says Baker. And compared to charities and NGOs of the past, he says that “people going into this don’t have an animosity to more free market or more capitalist approaches.” Today’s M.B.A. students are breaking the M.B.A. stereotype, says James Tansey, a professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, which is also moving to teach and mentor more social entrepreneurs. “It’s really quite striking. It’s not the majority but 25 per cent come in saying, T want a non-conventional career path.’ ” Even “non-conventional” doesn’t fully capture just how different that way of life can be. After doing an M.B.A. at McMaster University, Andrew Conte found himself in what he describes as a “mundane” job in the health care industry, marketing and selling


Similar to the Financial Times regular M.B.A. rankings, the FTs E.M.B.A. evaluation looks at a variety of performance measures for each school: the career progress of students, faculty quality and the diversity (female and international) of both faculty and students.

Rank Program Country 1 Kellogg/Hong Kong UST Kellogg-HKUST EMBA China 2 Trium: H EC Paris/LSE/N YU (Stern) G lobal EM BA Fra nce/U! K /U S A. 3 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) MBA for Executives USA 4 Columbia/London Business School EMBA Global üs A/Ü K 5 Instituto de Empresa EMBA Spain 6 London Business School EMBA LUC 7 University of Chicago GSB EMBA U.S.A./U.K./Singapore 7 Washington University (Olin) Washington-Fudan EMBA China 9 Columbia Business School NewYorkEMBA U.S. A. 9 INSEAD EMBA France/Singapore 11 Purdue/Tias/CEU/GISMA International Master's U.S.A./Netherlands/ in Management Hungary/Germany 12 Kellogg/WHU-Otto Beisheim School Keilogg-WHU EMBA Germany 13 Northwestern University (Kellogg) EMBA USA! 14 Duke University (Fuqua) Global EMBA Ü.S.A. 15 Chinese University of Hong Kong EMBA China 16 University of Navarra (IESE) Global EMBA Spain 17 Kellogg/York University (Schulich) Kellogg Schulich EMBA Canada 18 City University (Cass) EMBA UK 18 UC Berkeley (Haasj/Columbia Berkeley-Columbia EMBA USA 20 IMD EMBA Switzerland 28 University of Alberta/University Alberta/Haskayne Canada/China of Calgary (Haskayne) EMBA 32 University of Toronto (Rotman) MBA for Executives Canada 32 University of Western Ontario (Ivey) EMBA Canada/China 84 Queen's University EMBA Canada 87 University of Ottawa (Telfer) EMBA Canada 89 Concordia University (Molson) EMBA Canada Source: FT.com


Beyond Grey Pinstripes is an alternative ranking of business schools, conducted every two years by the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education. The ranking assesses the degree to which leading M.B.A. programs integrate issues concerning social and environmental stewardship into the curriculum.

Rank Country 1 Stanford U.S.A. 2 Michigan (Ross) U.S.A. 3 York (Schulich) Canada 4 UC Berkeley (Haas) U.S.A. 5 Notre Dame (Mendoza) U.S.A. 6 Columbia U.S.A. 7 Cornell (Johnson) U.S.A. 8 Duquesne (Donahue) U.S.A. 9 ......Yale...........................................................U.S.A....... 10 Instituto de Empresa Spain Ï1 NYU (Stern) U.S.A. 12 U N C (Ken an - FI agier) U.S.A. 13 The George Washington University U.S.A. 14 ESADE Business School Spain 15 Erasmus University (Rotterdam) Netherlands 16 Calgary (Haskayne) Canada 17 ITESM (EGADE Monterrey) Mexico 18 New Mexico (Anderson) U.S.A. 19 Brandeis (Heller) U.S.A. 20 Colorado, Boulder (Leeds) U.S.A. 21 Western Ontario (Ivey) Canada 22 Portland State U.S.A. 23 British Columbia (Sauder) Canada 24 Virginia (Darden) U.S.A. 25 Dartmouth (Tuck) U.S.A. 39 Dalhousie Canada 45 McGill (Desautels) Canada 53 Alberta Canada 59 Concordia (Molson) Canada 65 Wilfrid Laurier Canada Source: beyondgreypinstripes.org

computer equipment. In 2005, through MBAs Without Borders, he took a job in Sierra Leone, spending a year distributing malaria-fighting mosquito nets. He worked to build and fill a supply chain, getting the nets into pharmacies, and marketed the nets, doing things such as advertising through national media during the World Cup—an entirely new approach to distributing and selling the anti-malarial devices. Next, he travelled to Rwanda, where he worked with an American NGO that had built a clinic to serve women with HIV and AIDS. Conte reworked the struggling clinic’s business plan to help integrate it into Rwanda’s state health insurance plan. Both projects used his business training to “find a more sustainable way of doing things,” says Conte, who has just returned from a year doing develop-

ment work in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Conte is typical of social entrepreneurs who believe in using the power of business and the free market to solve the world’s social ills. Dehtiar ultimately sees the opportunity to create an all-important middle class in the developing economies of Africa and Latin America. “M.B.A.s have such a vital role in helping build up and create opportunities and jobs in these countries,” he says. Companies are also starting to catch some of this enthusiasm. MWB recently started a program with Deloitte Consulting in the U.S. Before starting their new jobs, the company’s newly hired M.B.A.s are offered a chance to spend a month in the field at an MWB project.

The big roadblock for many students who want to do an M.B.A. in social entrepreneurship is still the lack of funding. Scholarships can be hard to come by, and big donors to fund them are in short supply. One of the big supporters in the field is Canadian-born Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, who launched the Skoll Foundation, which invests in social entrepreneurs. It founded the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford, where it offers scholarships. But the field needs more angel investors like Skoll, and more time to

develop. Sauder’s Tansey says that while there is interest in a program at UBC, it will take a number of years to build it up and recruit necessary staff.

Faced with a shortage of funds, Baker, the social entrepreneurship M.B.A. hopeful, did what any good entrepreneur does, and came up with a novel way to try to raise tuition to study at Oxford (he applied too late to be considered for a Skoll scholarship). The result was a website, 3bucksforbrendan.com, where he solicited $3 donations from individuals. As an added bonus, he planned to cut up his Oxford degree and send a tiny piece to everyone who gave him money. Over the summer, he raised $11,000 (as well as some international media attention)—“a very humbling amount of money for people to have invested in me,” he says. But, he adds, “quite a long way to being able to afford the tuition and living costs in Oxford.” Baker ended his campaign late last month, and put his plans for an M.B.A. in social entrepreneurship on hold for a year. He plans to apply to more schools and hopes to land a scholarship next time around. As for the money he’s raised? He’ll donate it, of course, likely to Engineers Without Borders and Doctors Without Borders. M