Before joining The Heller School, I was a recently returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in the agriculture sector in Guatemala. I decided to pursue dual degrees in Sustainable International Development and Social Impact MBA because I was passionate about the ways in which business could be utilized as a force for good in the international development sector. Due to my desire to merge and complement my two degrees, during Fall 2021, I enrolled in Carole Carlson (Senior Lecturer and Director of Heller MBA program)’s esteemed Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation course. The course explores how entrepreneurship has become a driving force in the social enterprise sector and provides tools for how to develop and evaluate new business ventures. Furthermore, this course teaches applied social enterprise business plan development tools.
Throughout the 12 weeks, I learned a breadth of knowledge in the skills, attitude, and strategy needed to fully implement and become a successful entrepreneur in a social impact sphere. An inspiring part of the course included weekly Q&A sessions with passionate social entrepreneurs from across the globe. Through case studies and discussions with seasoned entrepreneurs in the field, we are able to analyze and evaluate what it takes to make it in this sector.
A highlight of this course is forming a team to develop a social venture business plan and present the final pitch to classmates and a panel of judges. It was through this experience that I formed a team with four other inspiring peers surrounding a student’s business concept called The Farmer Foodie, a carbon-negative farm-to-table restaurant. Our team met weekly to refine our ideas and develop our business model. Key topics discussed throughout the course included but were not limited to entrepreneurial leadership, ideation, team building, developing ecosystems, innovation, scaling, managing growth, financing, operations, marketing, measuring social returns, global social entrepreneurship, and designing and delivering an effective business pitch.
Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation was my favorite course that I had the privilege of taking at Heller. Carole Carlson’s passion and depth as a thought leader in social entrepreneurship make it a worthwhile experience. Check out Professor Carlson’s newly published first edition of her Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation textbook here. Additionally, my friend and cohort member Alison Elliott has pivoted The Farmer Foodie business to Everything Cheeze, a cashew parmesan alternative offering that has just launched. Check out their website and social media handles to see how Ali’s business progresses. Participating in this course inspired many of us to go on to pitch at The Heller Startup Challenge, Brandeis Innovation’s SparkTank, and even MassChallenge.