MBAs Turn to Social Enterprise
Monday, November 2, 2009
By developing a low-cost structure and specialising in maternity care, LifeSpring Hospitals, a fast-growing private healthcare chain in India, can charge Rs2,000 ($43, €29, £26) for a normal delivery, a cost that runs to Rs12,000 in mainstream Indian private hospitals. Learning how to deliver services to the world’s poorest consumers is not what MBA students aspired to. But with a new wave of students looking to use their business skills to tackle global problems, stories of social enterprises such as LifeSpring’s find eager audiences.
Such stories reflect the extent to which the boundaries between the private sector and civil society are eroding. “Business and the citizen sector are two operating sectors and they really need to come together,” says Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, the social entrepreneurship organisation. “Business schools should be at the centre of this merging of the sectors.”
The question for schools, many of which have social entrepreneurship electives, is not only how to bring more of these stories into classes, but also what methods to use in teaching the business models of this emerging sector – models that do not fit easily into the traditional categories covered by management education.