Contact FutureLearn for Support
Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.
Online course

Social Business: a Sustainable Way to Face the Most Pressing Needs of Our Time

Social Businesses are designed to improve society. In this course you will learn the main concepts to design a Social Business.

Social Business: a Sustainable Way to Face the Most Pressing Needs of Our Time

Why join the course?

This free online course focuses on the concept of Social Business and the main variables that we need to take into account when creating a Social Business.

We will begin by defining a Social Business according to Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laurate 2006. We will look at how a Social Business is different from other similar concepts such as Social Economy or Social Enterprise.

Learn how a Social Business meets social needs

The heart and purpose of a Social Business is an unmet social need. We will examine the potential social needs that these enterprises address. We will also look at how the social purpose permeates the organisation, from its day-to-day operations until the services or products are sold.

The final objective of a Social Business is to achieve a positive change in society. To this end, will explain the Theory of Change and learn about the current existing tools to measure the impact of these organizations in society in three different levels:

  • social
  • economic
  • environmental.

A key differential aspect of a Social Business is its economic sustainability. Through a canvas model, we will learn the variables that must be taken into consideration in order to achieve economic viability.

This course provides a sound academic foundation as an introduction to the concept of Social Business and it provides a starting point to develop your own social enterprise idea. This course has been developed along with Professor Muhammad Yunus.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsThis is a hotel. It has 8 rooms and 2 suites.

Skip to 0 minutes and 18 secondsIt offers a social service: accommodation in exchange of an economic profit, and it creates workplaces. Therefore, it’s what we call a traditional business. But what if the purpose of this hotel was to create these jobs for refugees? And what if it would reserve one of their suites for young people that were under tutelage, and offer them training to work in the hotel? And what if they invested their benefits to adapt the infrastructure for disabled people? In that case, this traditional business would be a social business. A social business covers social and environmental needs, becoming an instrument to improve society

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsFirst, we will learn the definition of Social Business and how it differentiates from other similar concepts. Next, we will identify social needs that can be solved through an economic activity and the different existing instruments to evaluate the impact of these organizations. Finally, we will learn how to start articulating an idea of a social business into a sustainable business model. We are Paula Veciana, Andrea Balletbo and myself, Ester Oliveras, and we will accompany you through this course. If you have social vocation, you are a social entrepreneur or an NGO professional, this is the perfect course for you, because you'll get both the conceptual part and also a starting point to develop your own social business idea.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsThe course will count with audiovisual explanations, a few lectures and tests, and also interviews with social business owners and experts, including Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate 2006. We encourage you to take part in it because it will open your mind to a new way of looking at businesses and how its activity can help to alleviate social problems.

What topics will you cover?

  • Definition of Social Economy
  • Difference between Social Enterprise and Social Business
  • Volume and benefits of the social economy
  • Social needs and human capabilities
  • Human capabilities classification
  • Theory of change and social enterprises
  • The importance of measuring social impact
  • Measuring impact: areas of impact and depth of analysis
  • The Canvas Tool for social business

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explore the key concepts for designing a Social Business
  • Demonstrate real examples of Social Business
  • Describe concepts related with Social Business: social needs, business opportunities and theory of change
  • Explore ideas to develop your own Social Business
  • Explain what is a Social Business?

Who is the course for?

You don’t need any previous experience to do this course.

Who will you learn with?

Ester Oliveras

Associate professor. Ph.D. in Accounting at University of Central Lancashire. Coordinator of the ACME Research Grup Coordinator and Yunus Social Business City Barcelona Director.

Paula Veciana Botet

I am graduated in economics, and have done my entire career in the social sector. I have assessed microcredit and social business projects for more than 14 years. Another world is possible! @paulavb_

Who developed the course?

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) is a public, international and research-intensive university in Barcelona. In just 25 years, it has earned a place for itself among the best universities in Europe.

Learners collage mobile
Join this course


  • Access to this course for 6 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes

Upgrade - $74

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you complete the course

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: