Beyond Organizational Scale:  How Social Entrepreneurs Create Systems Change
May 2017

Prepared in collaboration with the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, South Africarite food for others.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship manages the largest late-stage network of social entrepreneurs in the world – including the trailblazers that a generation of business school students have read as case studies and looked up to as role models.

The objective of this research report is to help practitioners understand what systems change means in the context of social entrepreneurship, how it is distinct from direct service or “business-in-a-box” models and, most importantly, what it looks like in practice – not as lofty exhortations and abstract concepts, but as a set of concrete activities, processes, and leadership lessons. Our intent is to move beyond systems theories – which, while useful, can be difficult to apply in a practical context – and instead tell the stories of how these theories can be applied across a range of circumstances. 

These stories follow six for-profit and non-profit social entrepreneurs in the Schwab Foundation network, working in education, health, consumer rights, land rights, rural development and the informal economy, as their strategies evolved beyond organizational scale – growing the reach of a prescriptive, organizationally designed solution to a problem – to systemic scale, with the goal of shifting the rules, norms and values that make up social systems.

Download the report: REPORT

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