Social Entrepreneurship 101

Discover Your Passion and Path to Change the World

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: March 3, 2020
  • Time: 3 hours/week
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Partner: Fossil Foundation

What You’ll Learn:

  • Understand the concept of social entrepreneurship and be inspired to find new ways to tackle the world’s greatest challenges
  • Appreciate that social entrepreneurship is a mindset to tackle problems across different sectors (public, private, non-profit)
  • Discover a pathway for how you can make change whether this is founding an enterprise, serving on a board, or supporting social entrepreneurs in other creative ways


Ever dream of changing the world or making a difference? You are invited to roll up your sleeves and join a group of entrepreneurs on a journey to change lives by changing systems.  In this 5-module introductory course from +Acumen, we’ll cover what social entrepreneurship is and why it’s so exciting.  Built from Acumen’s years of experience investing in social entrepreneurs, this course will also feature firsthand stories and advice from 4 inspiring founders: Charles Best of, Thulsiraj Ravilla of Aravind Eyecare, Leila Janah of Samasource, and JB Schramm of College Summit. Designed for anyone approaching social entrepreneurship for the first time, this interactive learning experience will give you an overview of the sector.  You’ll begin to identify a problem you care about, understand the considerations needed for impact and financial sustainability, and learn about how various entrepreneurs have thought about scale. 

Format and Timing:

  • Team-Based Course: We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you form a team of 2-8 people to take the course with. It works best to find friends or coworkers who can meet in person. Need to find team members? You can post to the discussion forums a month before the course starts.
  • Platform: NovoEd (+Acumen developed the course. We host this course on the NovoEd platform.)
  • Timing: This course will be open for 6 weeks. You can work through the materials at your own pace during the time the course is open. There are no required times for you to log in. There will be suggested deadlines for you to complete each assignment. The final deadline is the final day of the course.

Course Syllabus

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  • Instructional videos featuring lessons and tutorials from 4 successful social entrepreneurs
  • 5 reading guides highlighting case studies and examples, plus an additional full-length case study
  • 5 workshop guides to help your team unpack lessons from the videos, and to help you begin to envision and plan for your own social enterprise model
Section 1: What is Social Entrepreneurship?
  • Video: What is Social Entrepreneurship?
  • Video: Introduction to Donors Choose
  • Video: Introduction to Samasource
  • Video: Introduction to College Summit
  • Video: Introduction to Aravind Eyecare
  • Reading: Our Approach to Social Entrepreneurship
  • Reading: Social Entrepreneurship as Defined by Social Entrepreneurs
  • Reading: Social Entrepreneurship vs. Other Models of Social Change
  • Reading: A Force for Transformative Change
  • Reading: Starting with a Crazy Idea
  • Reading: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Activity: Life Map
Section 2: Identify Your Mission
  • Video: How to Identify a Social Problem to Tackle
  • Reading: Identify Your Mission
  • Reading: Find and Understand a Problem
  • Reading: Understand Your Customer
  • Activity: Passion-Skill-Problem
Section 3: Theory of Change
  • Reading: Understand a Theory of Change
  • Reading: Acumen’s Framework for Measuring Impact
  • Reading: Acumen’s Measurement Approach
  • Reading: An Impact Approach for Your Own Enterprise
  • Activity: Develop a Theory of Change
Section 4: Plan for Sustainability
  • Video: Planning for Impact
  • Video: Achieving Financial Sustainability
  • Reading: Building a Financially Sustainable Model
  • Reading: Social Enterprise Revenue Engines
  • Activity: Solutions Map
Section 5: Bring an Idea to Scale
  • Video: How to Think about Scale
  • Reading: Scaling Your Impact
  • Reading: Think about Your End Game
  • Reading: 4 Tips to Scale Smart
  • Reading: Many Ways to Scale
  • Activity: Build a Launch Plan
  • Activity: Reflection
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.

Supported By

Fossil Foundation invests in social entrepreneurs whose innovations unleash the potential of underserved young people.

What People Are Saying

"Despite completing a Master's Degree and a PhD in Public Health, it never occurred to me it was possible to help others without giving away the one shirt on your back. I am fired-up!"

Khady B. MI. U.S.