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Social Entrepreneurship pioneer Britt Yamamoto shows Global MBAs how to get from zero to social start-up

Updated Jul. 30, 2015
Having wrapped up a Global Intensive Course on "Social Entrepreneurship" delivered to Doshisha Global MBA students, social entrepreneurship pioneer, Antioch University Professor, and iLEAP Executive Director and Founder Britt Yamamoto spoke to DBS Assoc. Prof. Adam Johns about the role of social innovation and entrepreneurship.

AJ: So why is social entrepreneurship - and the social sector in general - important to today’s world?

BY: Social innovation and entrepreneurship is critical in today's world because we have some big challenges and to confront. Increasingly, the world over, the "old way of doing things" has proven to be ineffective in business, governance, and, more generally, personal life satisfaction! In my mind we need more people who have the capacity to ignite and lead creative action.

AJ: In the past Japan has not been known for its strong social or non-profit sector, particularly compared with the US. How do you see things evolving in Japan recently for social entrepreneurs?

BY: In Japan, we are seeing more and more social innovation and entrepreneurship. Japanese organizations like ETIC are inspiring more young Japanese to pursue as life of social action and international organizations like iLEAP are helping them to see their work in a global context. iLEAP has had the privilege to work very closely with some of the leading social organizations in Japan including Katariba and Madre Bonita and many of the young social leaders who will take Japan well into the 21st century.

AJ: So when it comes to training social leaders, many people have the (mis)conception that MBA students - and MBA programs - are all about maximising profits, but why is the “social” aspect of entrepreneurship important for MBA students?

BY: It is vital that MBA students know and understand the world of social change. Business can no longer operate in a vacuum, divorced from its social and ecological contexts. Leaders who are unprepared to manage and thrive in this rapidly changing world are doomed to fail or become irrelevant.

AJ: So all business schools should include this as a part of their curriculum?

BY: I do not believe that social entrepreneurship is for everyone, nor that everyone is cut out to be a social entrepreneur (as my Doshisha students now know!). At the same time, social entrepreneurial principles can infuse all aspects of one's approach to business and push MBA students to ask themselves core questions like, "what kind of world do I want to live in?" and "how will I work to create that world?"

Prof Yamamoto’s course introduced 20 Global MBA students to basic concepts of social innovation before guiding them through a team-based rapid prototyping assignment to deliver a pitch for social start-up funding within just 4 days. Student raced to devise business plans with real value creation, clear resourcing and costings, that were not only convincing to an investor but would make a difference in communities around the world.
Prof. Britt Yamamoto during student presentations for the Global Intensive Course on “Social Entrepreneurship” at DBS

Prof. Britt Yamamoto during student presentations for the Global Intensive Course on Social Entrepreneurship at DBS

Prof. Britt Yamamoto with Doshisha Global MBA students who completed his course on Social Entrepreneurship

Prof. Britt Yamamoto with Doshisha Global MBA students on the final day of the course

A group of students giving their pitch for social start-up funding on the final day of the class

Students giving a pitch for social start-up funding on the final day of the class

A group of students giving their pitch for social start-up funding on the final day of the class

Students giving a pitch for social start-up funding on the final day of the class

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