December 16, 2013
Earlier this year, Grameen Foundation president Alex Counts invited several social enterprise professionals to participate in a wide-ranging discussion on career opportunities in the sector. We hope this conversation will provide instructive insights and advice for new college graduates and those who would like to make mid-career shifts. The staff at Grameen Foundation who worked on this would like to recognize the exceptional efforts of summer intern John Weiller in turning this idea into a reality that will benefit many idealistic job-seekers in the years to come.
Just a decade ago, social entrepreneurship didn’t exist in the business school curricula. As of 2011, more than 148 schools were teaching some aspect of this subject, according to the Academy of Management Learning and Education. This rapid growth was spurred, in large part, by the growing recognition that businesses could successfully address social needs and that non-profits could be financially viable. One exciting version of this “grey area” between business and charity is the “social business” concept developed by Professor Muhammad Yunus.
In recent years, there has been particular interest in international social enterprises that tackle a range of challenges, including poverty, health, and the empowerment of women and girls.
But what happens after students cross the stage with their newly-minted degrees? And what about those that choose a non-traditional path into international humanitarian work? Many find it very hard to break into this challenging and rewarding field.
Grameen Foundation held a three-hour roundtable discussion with seven social enterprise professionals to get their insights. Moderated by Grameen Foundation president, Alex Counts, the conversation explored their experiences breaking into the sector, what they look for in candidates and how they remain excited about their careers. The participants were:
- Kaveh Azimi, CEO, Encite Capital
- Kimberly Davies, Program Officer, Grameen Foundation
- Kate Griffin, Senior Program Manager, Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED)
- Jordan Nelson, Senior Analyst, Castalia
- Khuloud Odeh, Director, Information Technolgy, Grameen Foundation
- Nicole Stubbs, CEO, First Access
- Brian Weinberg, Founder, Justgood.org/Director, Operations, SPARK International
The group challenged social enterprise candidates to bring more to the table than just passion, noting that an informed understanding of what organizations need often differentiate entry-level candidates from the rest of the pack. Read the “highlights” and share your experience and thoughts on social enterprise careers in order to contribute to this dialogue. The full transcript (lightly edited) is also available.