CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY & SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
|Name of the participant and other supporting staff if relevant||Prof. dr. Nikolay Dentchev (titular)
Prof. dr. Abel Diaz Gonzalez (Assistant)
|Name of the module and discipline, level and year of study||
Solvay Business School, Economic and social sciences.
|Short description of the project? Main goals, ambitions, strategy?||
Students within the courses “Corporate Social Responsibility” and “Social Entrepreneurship” were given the task to support social entrepreneurs.
This is conducted in a form of an assignment, worth 40% of their final mark. Students are required to work in a group and write a paper. The objective of this assignment is to develop a case for supporting projects in social entrepreneurship. Each group will present a paper of max 5 pages, in which they develop a strategy to support the organization they have selected.
The expectations for this paper are:
· Provide a thorough analysis of the environment, and main competitors
· Elaborate on the main opportunities and challenges for the case
· Explain the strategic choices that they propose, with attention to positioning on the market. How are they going to contribute to increasing the social impact of the selected case?
· Explain the financial implications of your strategic choices (provide a budget)
· Explain the HRM needs of the proposed strategy
· Explain the marketing and communication strategy that you want to propose
|CERL project title(s) & Name of community partner and/or any other supporting partners (public or private sector)||Social Entrepreneurship Assignment – Supporting a Social Enterprise|
|Can you provide any tangible info – e.g. module descriptor, learning outcomes, assignments, assessment criteria, …?||
The assignment provides a community engaging opportunity for students, while providing a hands on support to social enterprises. These enterprises are combating the most pressing problems of our society, therefore, supporting them means that we are also contributing to alleviating these social issues.
In terms of knowledge:
1. Demonstrate their understanding of the unique characteristics of “social entrepreneurship” by analyzing and evaluating concrete cases.
2. Demonstrate their knowledge of the constraints facing any “social entrepreneur”, such as finding a good balance between the goals of helping communities, organizations, individuals, etc., and the necessity of having a sustainable strategy.
In terms of skills:
1. Comparing the examples of social entrepreneurship covered in the course, drawing the appropriate conclusions.
2. Deriving recommendations for other social entrepreneurship activities.
3. Understanding the role of social entrepreneurship in the world, and its future.
In terms of attitudes, students should develop in this course:
1. critical attitudes, which are necessary for “life-long learning”.
2. an attitude of open-mindedness and self-critical reflection with a view to self- improvement.
3. sensibility towards the ethical dimensions of different aspects of the contents of this course.
The criteria for the evaluation of this assignment are:
1. Quality of elaboration on the functional areas explained in the “expectations” (25 p.)
2. Hands-on support of the chosen case (25 p.)
3. Quality of writing, layout and respecting deadlines (20 p.)
4. Final presentation (30 p.)
How was it taught, example:
– number of students?
– groupwork or individual assignments?
– How did you work with the partner?
– how did the project proceed?
– any reflection done with students?
– evaluation or formal assessment of students learning?
– Could or should we follow up with students?
– Technology/platforms used?
For this assignments, students are asked to forms groups of max 5 members. The class size varies per semester, and it goes between 50 to 80 students (in both Social Entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility).
Students are requested to select one project and they are given the possibility to look for several alternatives. The main source of information for the last academic years has been the Belgium Impact Platform (www.be-impact.org) which is the Belgian national platform in support of Social Entrepreneurship. There, students can see the most outstanding organizations in support of social entrepreneurship in Belgium, but also more than 300 cases of inspiring social enterprises. Students can also look to international inspiring cases and for this, they can visit the ELANET platform, which is an international Erasmus + funded project by the EU commission, which is currently building an international platform in support of social entrepreneurs between Europe and Latin America.
The students are very grateful with this experience. In one hand, they are able to apply all acquire knowledge in this course, but also in other foundational courses of management, into understanding the environment of a given organization and provide sound feedback to potential projects, issues, bottlenecks and opportunities they have to realize. In addition, they are able to test their capabilities as future managers. This is not only done when they have to persuade a company to work with, but also to provide specific feedback that is doable whit the context of the selected case, but also given the amount of resources and current activities of the case they are currently analysing.
For the social enterprise, the feedback is always welcome. Many of these social enterprises are comforted with small teams and lack of human resources. Having students consulting for them give them the possibility to receive fresh ideas, interesting feedback and also support for the execution of their projects.
Projects are evaluated based on the provided paper, plus the presentation given at the end of the course. Many of these projects are presented during the Social Entrepreneurship Fair, which is an event organized by the VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship. Take a look at the edition of 2021, showing students of the course of Social Entrepreneurship at VUB and the Brussels School of Governance.
|What have you changed about your programme/course in relation to CERL?||
1) Use Blended methods for student follow-up and feedback
2) The methods and results that could be obtained when a CERL approach is fully integrated at university level are admirable.
3) CERL is not only suitable within one domain. It can be used/implemented within different faculties and can bring much needed renewal/innovation within certain courses.
4) An adequate managing of expectations and efforts between the different partners (students, social entrepreneurs and CERL-coordinator) creates win-win-win situations. But it does require the most attention!
|What did your students learn or how will they benefit?||
“We were really surprised by the sheer magnitude and variety of different social initiatives we never had even heard of. It’s really interesting bringing all of these together in one place and giving them the possibility to connect with one another” – Testimonial of Student Corporate Social Responsibility
“It is particularly motivating to see how much students appreciate to give something back to society. As such, our students are the changemakers with important contributions to the sustainable development of our society. The younger generations are really interested in this. Our students are looking for social impact, not only during their studies, but also in their further professional careers.” – Professor Corporate Social Responsibility
|From your perspective as an instructor, what did you learn or were the benefits?||
1. To develop sustainable partnerships with community projects
2. To understand how curricular activities can be also transform into valuable projects for the community
3. To develop a course program and content that respond to actual social and community needs
4. To be able to follow up on students working in different projects (with local partners) at the same time
5. To set clear expectations both with students and the community at the same time
|What do you think the benefit was to the partner? Do they have any feedback from the partner?||The community partner benefits from this activity by having a constant communication with students and receiving, at the end of their assignment, a solid and concrete plan containing interesting ideas for their potential implementation. These ideas and feedback consist of a potential roadmap including implications at the strategic, financial, operational and communicational dimension of their organization, and could potentially support the SE to address one particular issue at their organization and thus improve the operation and activities related to their business.|
|How could/will you improve your CERL teaching practice next time?||We should look for more spaces in which we can bring different community partners together and discuss together with them about potential synergies with other courses and create a more long-term partnership with them. Occasionally, we have seen that people from the same community partner are working together with VUB in different projects. There should be a follow up on this, in order to be more efficient and support in a better and more structural way each of our community partners. For this, we need to develop a sort of observatory of best practices, in which VUB professors are aware of what is going on with the different community partners (suspects) around VUB and to see what type of collaborations already exists.|
|Any challenges and how you overcame them?||The main challenge currently is not having the chance to meet personally with the projects due to the pandemic. We have been developing several online activities and event (such as the Fair). Nevertheless, this is not the same as it was in the past. We hope in the future we are going to be able to reunite all these projects, the students and community partners together again, so we can create more personal connections among them and look for different potential synergies with all different stakeholders across our ecosystem.|