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I’ve recently conducted a lot of research into US business schools and their initiatives related to India.  At this point, I think that I have visited over 50 university websites.  It is interesting to observe the themes in website content.  It is encouraging to note that, in the year 2010, ideas like social enterprise, study abroad, and “greening” are clearly an emphasis across business school curriculums.  I can’t imagine that this was the case ten years ago.

As a social worker and now as part of a social enterprise, I’ve been asking myself questions related to this idea of “business solutions for social problems”.  I’m both excited and a bit cautious about the energy that this idea is gaining.  I think that my mixed feelings have to do with the scale and impact at which the private sector can influence society.

The impact that microfinance has on helping to raise people out of poverty is incredible and market-based approaches to supplying people with safe drinking water are exciting innovations.  However, these types of solutions won’t necessarily solve social problems such as abuse or discrimination.  I do believe that an increase in income or an increase in education can help alleviate physical abuse or substance use.  Yet, we know that discrimination, abuse, and alcoholism, all exist in financially-secure educated people and societies.

I’m inspired by how markets and business may generate mass improvement in health, education, and poverty- these seem like areas that are an excellent match for intensive private sector involvement and market- based solutions.  Yet, I’m worried that issues that are more psycho-social in nature may be overshadowed by the excitement over market-based solutions.  Also, I’m wondering about any examples of social enterprise or examples of scale that address human healing and happiness at the interpersonal  level… Please let me know!    


Joy Mischley