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  •  The GSBI® Network Explained

    Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2014



    What is the GSBI Network and how many organizations are in it? 

    The GSBI Network is the lynchpin in our plan to multiply the positive impact that we’ve already seen our GSBI programs can have. At Santa Clara University, the Jesuit mission and ethos, combined with Silicon Valley ambition and entrepreneurial know-how, have produced a very powerful formula; we want to make that “open source” and enable others to capitalize on and expand what we have done.
    There are 11 members of the GSBI® Network with several other new members currently in the process of formally joining the Network. Most are Jesuit universities, but other members include non-Jesuit, but mission-aligned universities and non-governmental organizations. We’ve got some practices that are working exceptionally well, which we want to spread. Yet, there are important things for us to learn from the other Jesuit members. They are based in the developing nations we aim to serve and have a  better context to make change happen on the ground. 
    Can you give me the top accomplishments of the Network over the last 3 years of its existence? 
    The GSBI Network was founded in late 2011. In the three years of its existence, more than six new social enterprise incubator and accelerator programs have launched at member institutions. Students are also learning about social entrepreneurship through courses and experiential learning opportunities that let them engage with social enterprises in their communities or across the globe. Network members are also sharing best practices directly with each other in true South-South collaboration. Members of the GSBI Network have individually established themselves as thought leaders in social entrepreneurship through publications like the Journal of Global Management for Sustainability’s special issue on social enterprise. Network programs have already supported the efforts of dozens of enterprises.  
    In what specific ways would you like to see the Network evolve over the next five years?
    We want to grow dramatically in the number and breadth of members – engaging university and non-university members. We also want to see the collaborations and partnerships among members multiply. Finally, maybe most importantly, by seeing how certain practices work across multiple sites over time, we can pin down the best practices for building an ecosystem that enables social enterprises to flourish. 
    Given the recent global meeting of the Network on May 19-21, what are the action items/collaborations that come out of it?  How did this meeting differ from past Network meetings? 
    Some of the positive outcomes from the recent May meeting include an agreement for Santa Clara University to deliver a “train the trainers” program at Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines share our methodology with 8 Asian Jesuit universities. For the first time ever, we engaged domestic (US-based) Jesuit institutions with the GSBI Network and expect that some of them will go on to launch social enterprise programs.  
    Another outcome we’re especially excited about is a commitment among other GSBI Network members to pursue an innovative “Replication” idea, where we would orchestrate something akin to franchising successful social enterprise business models from their original communities to new sites using the GSBI Network members as Replication Hubs.  Many successful social entrepreneurs don’t seek to grow their business too far beyond a home community that is the focal point for their passion.  A Replication network would enable us to take already-proven business models, match those with carefully selected entrepreneurs, and give them training, support and mentorship at a GSBI Network member; this would dramatically improve their chances for success and investment-readiness.
    I read that the focus of the meeting was on having students spend their service learning time helping social enterprises solve practical challenges. Is this correct? Will this be a push to involve students more directly in the work of the Network? 
    As institutions of higher education, GSBI Network members have a special interest in global education and experiential learning for their students.  SCU shared our innovative Global Social Benefit Fellowships program, which raises the bar on traditional models of service learning; beyond giving students a chance to visit and volunteer in the developing world, our GSB Fellowships engage students in direct work with a social entrepreneur to provide a valuable business service or deliverable that helps the enterprise.  Other Network members are also innovating in this space, like Ateneo de Manila’s SE Consultancy course, in which student teams work as consulting teams for local social enterprises.
    Across the world, cash-strapped social enterprises frequently lament that getting and keeping competent personnel in uneducated communities is one of their greatest ongoing challenges.  Students and faculty offer a tremendous reservoir of volunteer talent, to help enterprises complete important projects at low or no cost.  The benefit is mutual:  for Universities with a mission to serve humanity, social enterprises offer a compelling opportunity for global education and learning through service.
    Students are eager for these opportunities, and the Network members see this as an excellent way to connect our centuries-old mission of education and service to humanity, with cutting-edge programs to foster social entrepreneurship.   
    How can I help or get involved?  
    One of our most pressing needs is to grow our pool of GSBI mentors.  Mentors are seasoned business professionals who work directly with social entrepreneurs to develop their business.  We are taking more social entrepreneurs under our wing, and more mentors are needed to support them.  We are especially seeking people with direct experience as entrepreneurs and investors. However, we are also in need of professionals at various levels who bring experience in areas such as finance, marketing, business strategy, and human resources.  Many of our social entrepreneurs have a great idea and a passion to help their community, but have limited knowledge of the mainstream business principles that Silicon Valley business professionals encounter daily.  
    The Center also relies on charitable contributions of every level to operate.  While the University covers our overhead, the Center’s programs are completely sustained by grants and donations.  We are counting on community support to enable the Network to reach its full potential. 
  •  GSBI Welcomes Pears Challenge

    Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

    There are 3.7 billion people in the world living under $3 a day, representing a largely untapped market with an estimated $5 trillion in purchasing power waiting for quality products that improve their lives. Israel’s entrepreneurs are admired all over the world for their ability to innovate beyond their borders, and it is the marriage of this innovativeness and desire to serve others that has led the Pears Innovation for International Development Program at the Hartog School of Government and Policy at Tel Aviv University to launch the "Pears Challenge" in partnership with GSBI.

    The Pears Challenge seeks to identify, support, and nurture the talent of entrepreneurs devoted to alleviating poverty in the developing world through innovation. The Challenge will support up to ten teams of Israeli entrepreneurs addressing challenges rooted in the fields of health care, education, agriculture, water, energy, and ICT.

    Over the course of the three-month program in Tel Aviv, the teams of entrepreneurs will gain valuable insights on building a sustainable and financially successful business that will impact the world's poorest people. Then, select participants will win trips to the developing world to further implementation of their innovations.

    Rather than designing their program from scratch, The Pears Challenge decided to join the GSBI Network and leverage the proven GSBI Online curriculum and platform.  Thanks to the financial support of Grand Challenges Canada, the GSBI team has been working with the Pears Challenge to develop a program that will be delivered from March to June. GSBI Director of Strategic Alliances, Pamela Roussos, will travel to Israel in April to contribute as a mentor and subject matter expert.

    We are pleased to share our first-hand experience and in-person guidance to propel this noble effort forward.  Together, we take another step towards meeting the needs of all.

  •  GSBI Network Gathers in Manila

    Friday, Dec. 13, 2013


    In the wake of Typhoon Yolanda, Thane Kreiner and Andy Lieberman spent an amazing week in Manila for the 5th convening of the GSBI Network.

    In the midst of supporting relief efforts in the Tacloban region, the John Gokongwei School of Management at Ateneo de Manila orchestrated a stimulating week of connecting, learning, and collaborating for the GSBI Network partners who hailed from the United States, India, Spain, and Mexico.

    In addition to strengthening relationships with each other, the Network members were treated to a deep dive into the social enterprise space in the Philippines, a chance to build relationships with the drivers of Ateneo’s social enterprise efforts, and new connections with East Asian Jesuit business schools.

    The GSBI Network meets about twice a year to exchange best practices and foster collaboration. This time, the most spirited conversations were around the strategies for engaging students in social entrepreneurship through service learning and incubating student-led social enterprises as the delegates discussed their programs, such as the Center’s Global Social Benefit Fellowships.

    The Network meeting coincided with the annual meeting of the deans of the East Asian Jesuit Business Schools, at which Thane and Andy presented GSBI. They deepened the attendees’ interest in social enterprise, with several of the participants expressing desire to launch their own GSBI programs.

    Ateneo conveniently arranged the international events to coincide with their annual social enterprise conference, which let the international visitors get to know the Filipino SE ecosystem and key players, including Jaime Ayla, Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year, and Dr. Lisa Dacanay, author of several books on social enterprise impact assessment.  The GSBI Network’s panel during this conference and Thane’s participation on the Technology Changing Lives panel provided a global perspective to complement the excellent work being done locally.

    Of course, no Center trip would be complete without visiting social entrepreneurs.  We enjoyed meeting the teams at the Manila offices and workshops of Rags2Riches (‘11) and Gifts & Graces Fair Trade Association (‘09), both of which provide livelihoods to marginalized women through production of crafts.  A 90-minute van ride and 45-minute uphill hike through coconut groves took us to a sari sari store in the Hapinoy (‘11) / CARD BDSFI (‘13) network that provides solar lamps using a rent-to-own model.  We also visited current GSBI Online participant, Veritas, the xChange social innovation co-working space, and Gawad Kalinga’s Enchanted Farm—home of 17 social enterprises, launched mostly by graduates of Ateneo de Manila.

    2014 will see even more gatherings of GSBI Network members and prospective members, starting with a week of activities at Santa Clara University in May that will highlight service learning and action research with social enterprises.  In July, Thane will lead a social enterprise track at the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools annual meeting, which will include a GSBI Network panel and a keynote by Thane.  GSBI and Ateneo de Manila are also planning a train-the-trainers workshop in Manila to prepare faculty and mentors from East Asian universities to work with social enterprises using the GSBI model.

    To learn more about the GSBI Network, please contact Andy Lieberman at


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