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Commercialization of Social Enterprises: Stemming the Tide of Mission Drift

Find out how to avoid mission drift when transitioning a social enterprise or microfinance venture into a for-profit organisation.

3,447 enrolled on this course

Udaipur Market
  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Many social enterprises are becoming more commercial, adopting the techniques, funding or governance more usually associated with for-profit ventures.

In this online course, we will shed new light on this trend. We will ask how commercialisation affects the management and operations of social enterprises, and which avenues could or should be used to avoid mission drift.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Hello! My name is Marek Hudon. I’m a professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium where I am one of the co-directors of the Centre for European Research in Microfinance. I would like to invite you to an online course on the commercialization of social entreprises. A long long time ago, the world of social entreprises was a quiet sea where the social mindset was omnipresent but outreach was somewhat limited. Then came waves of commercialization or marketization… these waves have fundamentaly modified the landscape of social enterprise which today is almost unrecognizable to some early pioneers. Some industry captains considered these changes to be a wonderful opportunity to reach new horizons and impact more people.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Other industry pioneers were fundamentally concerned by commercialization, concerned by the risk of mission drift, and that this new direction could leave the industry in wreckage. This free online course will offer you two insights on the issue of commercialization. First, how commercialization affects the management and operations of social enterprise. Second, which avenues could or should be used to avoid mission drift; that is how to stem the tide to mission drift? Most of the time we will start with a case from microfinance, which is often presented as the poster child of social enterprise. How will we address this issue? Commercialization can be operationalized both in the institutional transformation to a regulated or for-profit organisation or the increasing use of commercial financing.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds While the starting point will often be the microfinance sector, we will always look to see whether our results are generalizable to other types of social entreprises, such as fair trade or work integration social entreprises. This project is intended to be participatory and inclusive. You will indeed be constantly involved in the MOOC, particularly to brainstorm about the policies to avoid mission drift. We will also have the opportunity to listen to many high-profile guest-speakers, which include not only leading academics such as Jonathan Morduch or Paul Collier but also well-known practitioners. Trust me, we will learn a lot from their experience! The MOOC will be free of charge. To register you can simply click on the link provided.

What topics will you cover?

  • Why social entrepreneurs innovate
  • Microfinance practices
  • When a not-for-profit becomes a for-profit organisation
  • Sources of financing and mission drift

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Describe the context in which social innovations (such as microfinance) emerge by relying on empirical data regarding poverty and financial exclusion.
  • Explain the evolution and the main features of the microfinance sector regarding products and services as well as organizational structure.
  • Describe what happens when a non-profit organisation becomes a regulated for-profit company.
  • Identify the practical implications of the transformation from a non-profit organization to a for-profit company.
  • Identify the managerial implications related to the shift of business model or to commercial sources of financing.
  • Discuss the managerial implications related to the shift of business model or to commercial sources of financing.
  • Produce different strategies and practices to avoid mission drift in social enterprises.
  • Identify what is specific to the commercialization of microfinance and what is common to all social enterprises.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for students and practitioners in social enterprises or microfinance, and more generally everyone who wants to know more about social enterprises and microfinance.

What do people say about this course?

"An excellent course. "

"This method of learning was great for me. "

Who will you learn with?

Marek Hudon is a Professor at the Solvay Brussels School (SBS-EM), Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is the founder of the European Microfinance Program (EMP) and the co-director of CERMi and CEESE.

Who developed the course?

Université Libre de Bruxelles

The Université Libre de Bruxelles, founded in 1834, has 13 faculties, schools and specialized institutes that cover all disciplines, closely combining academic input and research.

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Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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