Courses

Graduate Level

Business at the Base of the Pyramid: Business Solutions for the Global Poor

(Harvard Business School - 1595)

For consumers at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid, traditionally served by business entities with rules and regulations set by governments, the process of creating value for customers and shareholders are well defined by the rules of how firms operate in free markets. That is not the case for customer segments in the middle and lower parts of the socio-economic pyramid. The alignment of financial viability and positive social impact is harder to orchestrate, but nonetheless achievable. Examples of enterprises focusing on the base of the pyramid achieving both social value and commercial rates of return are beginning to shape the imagination of the business community. Similarly new age nonprofits and fund managers have come up with innovative ways of achieving social value without compromising on long term financial sustainability of the enterprise. The course addresses these issues by examining enterprises that focus on serving low-income sectors from principally two perspectives: First, we will look at businesses providing products and services, such as health, energy, water, financial access, etc., targeted to low income customers. Here we will examine best practices in blending social and commercial goals, including the idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and CSV (creating shared value). The second perspective will explore how purpose driven (commercial and social) enterprises and entrepreneurs attempt to solve market failures and attempt to strive for systems change. Two thirds of the cases in the course are from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and a third from the U.S. For more information click here.

Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid (University of Michigan—Prof. Ted London)

While the challenges of catalyzing a more inclusive capitalism are substantial for both the business and development communities, so are the potential returns. Fundamental to the success of BoP enterprises is sustainability at scale: a synergistic relationship between pursuit of profits and alleviation of poverty. Co-creating new business enterprises with the BoP offers the opportunity to design economically viable ventures that have the potential to raise the quality of life for billions of people. In this course, students will a) develop a rich understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges associated with serving BoP markets; and b) apply a toolkit of strategies, frameworks, and processes for creating sustainable, scalable BoP enterprises. Emphasizing action-based learning, robust discussion, and critical thinking, we integrate concepts from strategy, international business, entrepreneurship, non-profit management, and development to build skills necessary to lead enterprises that generate economic and social value. Learn more about the graduate level Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid course.

Community Development (University of Cape Town- Dr. M Brown-Luthango) (ONLINE) 

This course aims to explore the involvement of community groups in the provision of infrastructure in the context of a withdrawal of the State from infrastructure development in many cities of the South. The main thrust of this module is to track how current international community development themes shape practice to provide a context for community development as an ideal. Various themes, including governance and livelihoods, the relationship between infrastructure and development, community-driven processes in the context of the “Right to the City” and data collection techniques, including participatory tools for getting and analysing information are dealt with at length in this module. Learn more about this course

Economics of Development: Poverty (Georgetown University - GHDP-505) 

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a conceptual framework and analytical tools, rooted in microeconomic theory, to design and evaluate policies aimed at reducing poverty and inequality in developing countries. After an overview of the measurement of poverty and inequality and recent trends, we will present the framework of market failures and government failures that explain these phenomena and suggest policies to address them. We will then examine interventions to reduce poverty and inequality along three dimensions: (i) expanding economic opportunities, especially employment; (ii) enhancing human capital, especially health and education; and (iii) protecting vulnerable populations from shocks. The course will conclude by applying the framework to four topics that are especially relevant to reducing poverty and inequality: (i) fragility and conflict; (ii) gender; (iii) urbanization; and (iv) politics. Learn more about this course from Walsh School of Foreign Service

Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries

Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship – Professor Birgitta Schwartz

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to an overview of the role of entrepreneurship for economical, social and ecological sustainable development, including poverty alleviation. Throughout the course students will elaborate on the basics of entrepreneurship; to develop ideas and to act upon these ideas. The course is grounded in policy issues and entrepreneurship theory and experiences from practical cases are used for inspirational learning.  For more information click here.

MA in Poverty & Development (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex)

Poverty reduction is the ultimate measure of development effectiveness. Gain the knowledge and skills to engage professionally with the design, implementation and assessment of national and international efforts to reduce poverty in this Masters in Poverty and Development. Through an interdisciplinary lens, you’ll gain a sound understanding of the main theories of development and poverty reduction in development, and a solid grounding in the concepts and skills needed to engage in debates on poverty and development. Learn more about this course

MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (University of Portsmouth) - Master

This online programme will give you the conceptual and analytical skills needed to become a results-driven professional who can effectively harness innovation in a startup or an existing business.

Through your coursework, which includes a mix of practical and academic assessments, you’ll enhance your abilities around opportunity recognition, product development, commercialisation, operational growth, strategic thinking, and more. You’ll also receive hands-on support from our academics, who hold valuable experience in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation management. Their industry insights will help you understand how to relate your studies directly to your own career. Plus, since this course is delivered part-time and online, you can study for your degree at the place and times that suit you best. Learn more about this course

MSc in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (London School of Economics)

This unique programme brings expertise from the latest insights in social innovation research with LSE’s tradition for academic excellence, alongside practical learnings from our network of socially-focused organisations worldwide, into the classroom. You will learn to think beyond current trends and fashions in the young and rapidly-developing field of social innovation, and develop critical academic views informed by cutting-edge research in management, psychology, sociology, economics and anthropology. Learn more about this course

MSc International Development: Poverty, Inequality & Development (The University of Manchester School of Environment, Education and Development)

MSc International Development. Poverty, Inequality and Development is designed to help you understand and tackle the problems of poverty and inequality in a critical and constructive way. The current impoverishment of more than 1.4 billion people, plus the growing levels of inequality at national and international levels, present the world with its greatest moral challenge. You will learn about the different conceptualisations and characteristics of poverty and inequality through high-level academic training from leading academics, in a vibrant and stimulating environment. Learn more about this course

Poverty, Business and Development (University of Notre Dame—Prof. Michael Morris)

This course approaches entrepreneurship as a solution to poverty across the globe. The multi-faceted nature of poverty and its implications for the pursuit of entrepreneurship are explored. For its part, entrepreneurship is approached as both a mindset and a process. Approaches to addressing the challenges and unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of the poor are introduced. A wide range of venture types are considered, including those from the informal sector and social ventures. The topics addressed are approached from three points of view: i) the conventional entrepreneurial view; ii) the poverty view in a developed country context; and iii) the poverty view in a developing country context. Attention is also devoted to the role of the existing business community in supporting entrepreneurial activity by the poor. Students examine actual case studies and meet some low income entrepreneurs. They are challenged to recognize their own innate entrepreneurial potential and ways it can be harnessed to make a difference in the world. Learn more about the Poverty, Business and Development

Sustainable Value Creation (York University—Prof. Kevin McKague)

Thinking about poverty alleviation via market-based enterprises has undergone a dramatic shift in the last decade.  This course explores the disruptive for-profit pro-poor business models which are emerging in developing countries. It explains the strategic and organizational processes by which new grassroots ventures and spin-offs of large multinational corporations come to recognize unconventional niches and then successfully create new economic and social value in ways that harness and sustain novel sources of competitive advantage. Learn more about Kevin McKague courses

The Challenges of Global Poverty (Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Prof. Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, Prof. Esther Duflo) (ONLINE)

This is a course for those who are interested in the challenge posed by massive and persistent world poverty and are hopeful that economists might have something useful to say about this challenge. The questions we will take up include: Is extreme poverty a thing of the past? What is economic life like when living under a dollar per day? Are the poor always hungry? How do we make schools work for poor citizens? How do we deal with the disease burden? Is microfinance invaluable or overrated? Without property rights, is life destined to be "nasty, brutish and short"? Should we leave economic development to the market? Should we leave economic development to non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? Does foreign aid help or hinder? Where is the best place to intervene? And many others.

At the end of this course, you should have a good sense of the key questions asked by scholars interested in poverty today, and hopefully a few answers as well. Learn more about this course

Article on what some business schools are doing to address poverty: click here.

Undergraduate Level

Action on Poverty and Hardship (Staffordshire University)

Do you care about people and social injustice? Are you disheartened by the levels of poverty and inequality in society? Are you ready to take action to bring about change? Then this course is for you! At every level of this course, you will learn how you can take action to bring about real and lasting change. The course will enable you to understand the causes and drivers of poverty and hardship and seek to build sector-specific skills. The course will be action-based and at it's heart, will focus on the lived experience of those experiencing poverty and social inequalities, in recognition of the expertise they hold. Developed in consultation with both local and national voluntary and charity sector organisations, the course will offer opportunities for work-based learning, assisting in the development of the key skills necessary to create the change-makers of tomorrow. Learn more about this course

Base of the Pyramid: Business Innovation and Social Impact (University of Michigan—Prof. Ted London)

While the challenges of catalyzing a more inclusive capitalism are substantial for both the business and development communities, so are the potential returns. Fundamental to the success of BoP enterprises is sustainability at scale: a synergistic relationship between pursuit of profits and alleviation of poverty. Co-creating new business enterprises with the BoP offers the opportunity to design economically viable ventures that have the potential to raise the quality of life for billions of people. In this course, students will a) develop a rich understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges associated with serving BoP markets; and b) apply a toolkit of strategies, frameworks, and processes for creating sustainable, scalable BoP enterprises. Emphasizing action-based learning, robust discussion, and critical thinking, we integrate concepts from strategy, international business, entrepreneurship, non-profit management, and development to build skills necessary to lead enterprises that generate economic and social value. Learn more about the Base of the Pyramid: Business Innovation and Social Impact course

Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for Economic Inclusion

(Brown University - ENGN 1931N)

Entrepreneurial ecosystems represent one of the most recent developments for fostering economic development as leaders globally aspire to build successful ecosystems in their cities and regions. . This class will examine the emergence of entrepreneurial ecosystems in different cities and the various roles, functions and goals of entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) in these contexts. These organizations support the development of social and cultural capital in entrepreneurs and act as intermediaries in connecting them with the existing resources of an ecosystem. At the same time, ESOs may engage in gatekeeping behavior that replicates or even furthers inequalities in access to resources for certain groups of entrepreneurs, such as women and minorities. The class will focus on different organizational practices and policies for building inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems. Students will have the opportunity to visit local ESOs during the course to enhance their learning of ecosystems, ESOs and inclusive economic development.  (Spring only)  For more information about this course, click here.

Community Development (University of Cape Town- Dr. M Brown-Luthango) (ONLINE) 

This course aims to explore the involvement of community groups in the provision of infrastructure in the context of a withdrawal of the State from infrastructure development in many cities of the South. The main thrust of this module is to track how current international community development themes shape practice to provide a context for community development as an ideal. Various themes, including governance and livelihoods, the relationship between infrastructure and development, community-driven processes in the context of the “Right to the City” and data collection techniques, including participatory tools for getting and analysing information are dealt with at length in this module. Learn more about this course

Consulting and Development (University of Notre DameProf. Michael Morris)

Students, in a structured format, are involved in assessing, prioritizing and creatively solving problems encountered by low-income and other disadvantaged entrepreneurs.  A process consulting approach is employed and a number of useful tools and frameworks are introduced. Students work with both for-profit and non-profit enterprises, producing tangible deliverables that help clients launch, grow and sustain their ventures.

Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Social Justice

Columbia University (Note: this is a summer immersion pre-college course)

Can economic growth be reconciled with sustainability? Can social entrepreneurs find solutions to climate adaptation challenges? How do we incentivize fishermen to conserve the world’s fisheries? Can microfinance loans to the entrepreneurial poor reduce global poverty? What practices can businesses adopt to align their bottom lines with sustainability? How can we do well while doing good – and while embracing principles of equity, access, participation, and human rights? In this course participants are introduced to key concepts and skills associated with social entrepreneurship, finance, and economics and are consequently enabled to think proactively about solving some of the world’s biggest problems – while also probing how profitability and social justice might intersect and at times come into conflict.

Students are introduced to economic concepts such as supply and demand, utility, macro- and microeconomics, the time value of money, and the use of indicators. They also engage with key concepts relating to business formation and management, raising funds using debt or equity, and financial accounting. Participants begin to see some of the largest social problems we face today as essentially economic challenges – and are then asked, through a mix of projects, debates, field trips, and case studies, to come up with potential solutions, their work culminating with a social enterprise pitch competition. Click here for more information.

Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Strategies (University of Cape Town)

The course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the key requirements, challenges, and experiences associated with initiating a business enterprise. Inter-alia these incorporate environmental scanning, idea generation and refinement, business model development, drafting a business plan, strategy formulation, sourcing venture capital, supplier negotiations, legal contracts, quality control, financial management and reportage, marketing and sales management, aspects of management theory including the conflicting values model, and disciplines of personal management. The primary means of learning is experiential. Students will be immersed into live social entrepreneurship projects. Action-learning is underpinned by a series of guest-lecture inputs, workshops and meetings addressing various aspects of business venture planning. Learn more about this course

From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development (University of Oxford- Prof Paul Collier) (ONLINE)

How can poor societies become prosperous and overcome obstacles to do so? Professor Sir Paul Collier is one of the world's leading scholars on this question, and in this economics course, you will have the opportunity to learn from him directly. This course will discuss and examine the role of government and the key political, social and economic processes that affect development; why societies need polities that are both centralised and inclusive, and the process by which these polities develop; The social factors that are necessary for development, including the importance of identities, norms, and narratives; the impact of economic processes on development, including discussion about how government policies can either promote or inhibit the exploitation of scale and specialisation; and the external conditions for development, including trade flows, capital flows, labour flows and international rules for governance. Learn more about Paul Collier’s course

Global Dynamics and Critical Perspectives on Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the United States

(Brown University - UNIV 1089)

Immigrants now start more than a quarter of U.S. businesses, despite accounting for less than 15 percent of the total population (Kerr & Kerr, Harvard Business Review 2016). Also, a 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research study found that nearly 45 percent of immigrant business owners were women.  This course traces the U.S. history of immigrant, ethnic and religious minority groups (e.g., Italian, Jewish and German entrepreneurs) starting from the 18th century to the rise of immigrant Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Cuban and Iranian-owned businesses that particularly occurred during 20th Century. We also examine emerging immigrant entrepreneurs among national origin groups that historically had low rates of self-employment, such as Mexicans and Filipinos, and among the newest of the more recent immigrant groups, including Vietnamese, Cambodians, Bolivians, Ethiopians and Eritreans. This course also examines the specific role that immigrant women and refugees play as entrepreneurs. In recent years, we have witnessed remarkable shifts in immigrant entrepreneurship, from local, labor-intensive, service-oriented enterprises to global, knowledge-intensive, and professional services. These entrepreneurs have developed businesses various industries including hospitality, food services, garment, health care and medicine, biotech, and technology. (Taught in Spring only). For more information about this course, click here.

Poverty, Development & Globalisation (University of Cape Town) (ONLINE) -  Undergraduate

This course examines the great contemporary global problems of poverty and inequality. Sources and selected empirical cases of poverty and inequality are explored and related development theories and policies are examined. The geographical scope of the course ranges from the local to the international. Learn more about this course

Poverty Spotlight and Development (American University of Nigeria—Prof. Raimi Luqman)

Poverty Stoplight and Development is a development-focused course designed to provide students with a general understanding of multidimensional poverty in the local context, as well as how to design a realistic and sustainable solutions to poverty and poverty issues by incorporating stakeholders’ inputs into the development of poverty alleviation policies.  At the middle of the semester, the students are made to work in groups to develop social enterprises and social innovations that would redress any of the poverty-induced issues in the host community such as food insufficiency, insurgency, communal clashes over land resources, poor access to water, ineffective healthcare systems, maternal death, child mortality, financial exclusion, gender exclusion and out-of-school children. 

Social Entrepreneurship, Community Leadership, and Social Impact (University of Michigan-Dearborn—Prof. Marcus Harris)

The purpose of this course is to expose students to social entrepreneurship concepts and theories to help them learn how community leadership can facilitate the social entrepreneurship process for positive community change (i.e. social impact).  This experiential learning course is designed for students who wish to integrate entrepreneurial problem-solving skills with strategic social innovation concepts to affect positive social change in underserved communities.  This course appeals to students who have a strong desire to become, advise, or support social entrepreneurs, or work in a start-up, early stage, or entrepreneurial-minded company or community organization that creates positive social impact using a for-profit business model.