Students Extend Care Through Business and Social Innovation

Since 2013, HKUST students have participated in a unique experiential learning course on social entrepreneurship and venture philanthropy (“SEVP”). Reflecting the nature of social entrepreneurship, the course is interdisciplinary by design. Thus, while the MBA-level course is housed in the Business School, our students have ranged from undergraduates to PhD’s, studying business, politics, engineering, science, social science and computer science.

During class, students learn about local and global best practices through lectures, case studies and listening to the experiences from industry professionals. Outside of class, they work in teams to apply what they have learned in a consulting project to help innovative, real-life social ventures tackle pressing social problems in Hong Kong.

There are no exams or tests. Instead, the student teams prepare funding proposals and presentations, then they pitch their ideas, on behalf of their Social Venture Partners, to judges and their peers for HKD250,000 in grant funding from The Yeh Family Philanthropy. Students also take on the role of a “funder” in helping to decide where the award money goes!

In the last few years, over 160 students have partnered up with 24 social enterprises. The six winning social enterprises have been awarded a total of HKD1.5 million to help with their missions in the environment, social inclusion, education, innovative fundraising for charities, elderly services and mobility services.

With firsthand experience of social entrepreneurship, social finance and management consulting, it’s no surprise that our students have gone on to become consultants or establish their own social enterprises, while others established careers in foundations and impact investing firms. Even those who choose the corporate route end up finding ways to become “intrapraneurs” by making an impact from within their organizations.

Ben, one of our most recent students, had this to say: “This is the best course that I’ve taken during my MBA. The main reason is because it really has changed me. I don’t feel sorry for those [unfortunate] people anymore when I look at them. Instead, I think about how I can help them from a business perspective. I think about how I can add value through charity to help them. It has really changed the way that I look at a lot of things. I definitely recommend this course to anyone who is interested in making the world a better place!”



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