Social Business / Enterprise and Poverty Program Details


The Certificate consists in two distinct components: a “theoretical” part in class examining Social Business themes and studying the involvement of business in the fight against poverty, complementing students' main fields of study; and a “field” part in a business, in a structure of social integration, or in a project of social entrepreneurship involved in fighting poverty.

Theoretical part

This part entails lectures, cases, conferences, both at HEC and in situ of some social organizations. It is divided in three successive phases: motives / modalities / frontiers.

  • Motives:

Should firms be involved in the fight against poverty? The neo-classical economic theory proposes that this de facto does take place, through the creation of value that is shared among shareholders, employees, suppliers and public authorities (via taxes). While this point is not disputed, we examine in this first part the reasons which could prompt firms to be involved more directly in poverty alleviation, through the creation of “inclusive business models” developed both by entrepreneurs and existing firms. We also seek to gain a more in-depth look at what it means to be poor, both in an emerging and in a rich country.

  • Modalities:

How can firms deal with poverty issues? This part lies at the heart of the Certificate, and we pivot around three dimensions; a) the size of the actor: we examine social entrepreneurship, medium-sized firms and large multinationals, b) the geographical scope: we study activities in poor, emerging and rich countries, c) the actor’s strategic intent: we cover a wide range of business models, from purely economic models (low cost) to purely social models (philanthropy), emphasizing hybrid models such as BOP strategies and Social Business ventures. We also examine alternative finance and marketing strategies that are deployed to sustain these innovative business models. Each time, we seek to go beyond a mere description of the models under study, analyzing what did or did not work, focusing on the both the breakthrough and the roadblocks.

  • Frontiers:

This part comes as a conclusion and aims at introducing new perspectives. We explore how “mainstream” companies can transform themselves, becoming more inclusive and sustainable. We explore this transformation, trying also to highlight, as far as possible, the existing links between this transformation and the new paradigms and behaviors Social Businesses can help create. We look at changes at different levels: new paradigms of how functions can / should reinvent themselves, processes that can lead to this transformation at the corporate level (“change management”), and results in terms of global contribution, that firms can / should bring to society.

Field part

  • The Immersion week:

The name says it all: the objective is for participants to immerse themselves in the field of poverty alleviation by spending one week with social entrepreneurs and social organizations. The objective is both to spend time co-working “in the trenches”, and to meet the managers who are putting their effort in alleviating poverty. Such an immersion is meaningful, humanly rich and full of learnings. It has always made an impact on our participants’ lives. This week is to be spent in groups of two participants.

Academic team

Faculty and Experts

  • Frédéric Dalsace, Associate Professor of Marketing, HEC Paris
  • Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot, Affiliate Professor of Strategy & Business Policy, Executive Director of the Social Business / Enterprise and Poverty Chair and the Society & organizations (SnO) Center, former Academic Director of MSc in Sustainable Development, HEC Paris•   Jacques Berger, Director, Action Tank “Entreprise & Pauvreté”
  • Florian Hoos, Assistant Professor of Accounting and Management Control, HEC Paris
  • Rachel Maignan, Investor in social businesses, ESFIN Gestion
  • David Ménascé, General Manager, Azao
  • Laurence Moret, Press and Institutional Partnerships Manager, Crédit Coopératif
  • Lise Penillard, Executive Director of the MSc in Sustainability and Social Innovation, HEC Paris
  • Tatiana Thieme, University Lecturer in Geography, University of Cambridge, and Director of Studies and Fellow, Fitzwilliam College
  • Charles-Edouard Vincent, CEO and founder of Lulu dans ma rue and founder of Emmaüs Défi

And Very Inspiring People Among Whom

  • Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone
  • Martin Hirsch, High Commissioner for Active Solidarities and High Commissioner for Youth in the French government between 2007 and 2010, now Head of the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris
  • Jean-Michel Severino, President of I&P (Investissement & Partenaires), former CEO of France’s International Development Agency – AFD and former Vice President for Asia at the World Bank
  • Professor Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006