MBA grads find way to serve and thrive
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho, Siiri Morley watched development workers train women to make crafts without much thought to whether their products would actually sell. Unsold crafts piled up until these businesses and programs inevitably failed, leaving the women without an income, marketable skills, or hope of rising from poverty.
This experience taught Morley that even the best-intentioned social programs would not work unless they could operate in the black by adhering to established business practices such as identifying markets for goods and services. Today, with an MBA in hand, she is one of three founders of a successful Boston firm that sells candles made in developing nations and provides a steady income to the women who make them.
“That’s actually why I went to business school,” Morley said. “I want to be able to look at business projections and know that this will be viable, that the women will be able to earn enough money from it.”
Morley, 35, is one of a number of entrepreneurs who have earned an MBA from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and launched startups that aim to use the power of innovation and markets to effect social and economic change.
This year, about one-third of the 44 students beginning Heller’s MBA program are concentrating in social entrepreneurship.