See more about DePaul’s Social Venture Collaborative in this video.
DePaul University business students are leading the push to learn more about social
ventures, which compete in business while also generating clear and
measurable contributions to society.
J. Murphy, an associate professor of management, is connecting DePaul
students with the large and growing population of socially purposeful
ventures in Chicago to the benefit of both.
businesses are seeing that companies that engage and give back to their
communities on a deeper, more meaningful level are more competitive and
profitable in the long term,” says Daniel Speers, one of Murphy’s students.
MBA student Kristine Rellihen agreed. “It is my belief, that in time, all
traditional entrepreneurship will be social entrepreneurship. It is becoming
more and more apparent that organizations that do not incorporate social
value in their portfolio diminish their long-term viability.”
says social ventures differ from more traditional ones in terms of how they
denominate value. The firm boundaries are also more opaque, he noted.
is a customer and what is an employee are not such simple questions. The
lines can blur in operating social ventures,” he says. “We think of social
venture viability in terms of the mobilization of a constituency and in terms
of how to serve a need. It forces one to think a bit more deeply about
revenues and costs, and the business models tend to be a bit more complex.
developed a new Social Entrepreneurship MBA class in 2009 after he led an
outreach consulting trip to New Orleans, where a team of DePaul MBA students
worked with Naked Pizza and won a venture consulting competition. Today,
there is a Naked Pizza location in Chicago co-managed by a DePaul MBA
a year, interest exceeded the boundaries of the new MBA class. The course was
a hit with DePaul business and public service graduate students, but there
also was interest from students in other disciplines, including liberal arts
and social sciences and computing and digital media. Murphy realized
something more was needed.
fall 2012, he launched the Social Enterprise Collaborative, which connects
students with socially purposeful enterprises in Chicago. DePaul students in
the initiative provide outreach consulting to Chicago social ventures, find
internships, come together for networking, and learn about unique business
models that generate social value while also generating enough revenue to
Growing social venture
in Murphy’s Social Entrepreneurship MBA class and in the Social Enterprise
Collaborative are serving a growing number of social ventures in Chicago. Some
- Devising a venture plan for the textile designs of the indigenous Shipibo
tribe in Peru. The Field Museum of Natural History needed an alternative
revenue source for the tribe so they wouldn’t be reliant on money from
illegal logging companies that are cutting down the rainforest of Cordillera
Azul National Park in the Amazon region of northern Peru.
- Establishing a communications protocol for Sweet Beginnings LLC to help
coordinate the expansion of honey-based Beeline products into the Hudson
stores in Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway Airports. The North
Lawndale venture produces premium honey in urban apiaries as part of a
transitional jobs program that provides formerly incarcerated individuals
with green-collar jobs (see photo above).
- Creating engaging workshops and developing steps and metrics for Cibola, a
social enterprise innovation center and accelerator program for social and
technology ventures that serves the entrepreneurial community in Chicago’s
A Good Fit for Chicago
and DePaul students
entrepreneurship appeals to DePaul students who are looking for a more
purpose-driven business career.
who worked on the Shipibo project, spent about six years working in
advertising before realizing she wanted more social impact in her career
path. She enrolled in DePaul’s MBA program with a concentration in
sustainability management and was first introduced to social entrepreneurship
in Murphy’s MBA class.
class showed me that social entrepreneurship is a very viable career path.
You can do well by doing good. You always hear to follow your passions, do
what you love and it won’t feel like work. And for me, this class really
shined a light on that option,” she said.
students said it gives meaning to their hard work and makes it worthwhile and
intrinsic reward associated with improving the lives of others, for me, is
immensely more motivating than financial compensation alone,” said Speers,
who worked on the Shipibo project.
came to DePaul specifically with the intention of using business to improve
Yanosy worked on the Sweet Beginnings project as part of an internship
through Murphy’s Social Enterprise Collaborative. “I always try to volunteer
in my spare time, and I thought why not use what I am learning in business school
to help a company that is helping others? Why can’t businesses generate
profit while also positively impacting other people and communities?” she
Connecting with Communities
culture is germane to helping others and connecting with Chicago communities.
Integrating social purpose into business in a meaningful way is very natural
at DePaul,” Murphy says. “Part of the purpose is to help Chicago social ventures,
but our students are the ones who really benefit.
a management professor, it’s an amazing area of study. In some ways, the
students are ahead of us,” he says. “This traditional tradeoff between
‘doing well’ and ‘doing good’ does not color their perception. They see no
good reason why one can’t or shouldn’t do both at the same time.”