This course will provide a comprehensive overview and step by step approach to the most critical aspects of operating social enterprises. This course will put students in the shoes of the social entrepreneur, social enterprise or operations manager, using detailed examples and activities from a real-world social enterprise, as well as best practices from targeted case studies addressing key course topics. For this semester, the course will feature the Professor’s experience with building and operating a social enterprise in the peanut agricultural value chain in Haiti. Student practice and assignments will be informed by actual datasets and mini-case examples from this social enterprise.
Enterprises, particularly those in rural communities of the developing world, have unique operational challenges. These include but are not limited to 1) poor infrastructure that complicates logistics, 2) widely dispersed and fragmented supplier base, 3) limited trained talent pool and outsourcing options, 4) minimal experience in and budgets for systematization, 5) heightened political and climate risks, 6) inconsistent income streams and high degree of market informality, and 7) the impediments of last mile services and distribution. Social enterprises have the additional consideration of optimizing operations in a way that will amplify social impact. This course, unlike traditional operations courses, will focus on operations management through the lens of these unique challenges.
Students will work individually throughout the course, preparing homework assignments prior to each interactive session based on actual datasets and mini-case examples. Following each session, during which students will be provided with detail on real approaches utilized by the Professor as well as best operational practices highlighted in selected cases and readings, students will resubmit assignments based on learnings. This will mirror both hands-on nature and continuous improvement cycles used in social enterprise operations. Students will apply and where applicable build on previous experience and coursework in financial management, operations, impact measurement and strategy – however discover these topics from a tangible social enterprise operations perspective as well as better understand important areas of interconnectedness. Students will exit this course being able to lead or support key aspects of operating successful social enterprises.