Why this certificate


Context: Extreme poverty continues to exist

Malnutrition, insalubrious living conditions, illiteracy: there are multiple layers to poverty. Today, 2.5 billion people (30% of the world's population) live on less than $2 US per day. If nothing is done by 2050, 50% of the world population will be living below the poverty level.

In developing countries:

  • Major future issues linked to current environmental and demographical changes such as global warming, a strain on natural resources and loss of biodiversity are foreseeable.
  • Extreme poverty in numerous countries will continue.

In developed countries, like France:

  • 8 million people still live below the poverty level - 2 million of whom are children
  • Individuals are often ill-equipped to react when confronted by a demanding economic system
  • A critical state of affairs exists in certain businesses, in deprived city areas and in rural zones threatened by desertification.

Missions and Objectives

The aim of the Social Business / Enterprise and Poverty Certificate is to contribute to training a new generation of managers, aware of societal challenges and aspiring to be part of the solution, regardless of their professional activity.

Across the Social Business / Enterprise and Poverty Certificate, the objectives of HEC Paris and its partners are:

  • To train students in innovative business approaches that reduce poverty, by offering new economic models in both developed and developing countries
  • To investigate new ways of co-creation and distribution of wealth to reduce poverty;
  • To help participants acquire key questioning skills on the role of business in society
  • To allow students to incorporate their valuable experience in humanitarian associations into their professional life.

The objective is not necessarily for all students to work in Social Business, but for them to acquire an awareness of the importance of SB in their field of work.


For the last four years, we have welcomed almost 300 participants from many horizons, within HEC (Master in Management Grande Ecole, MSc, Specialized Masters, CEMS, MBA, Ph.D.), as well as outside of HEC 2 (Polytechnique, AgroParisTech, Paris Universities,…), outside France (Columbia, Bangladesh), and from the business communities (career shifters, entrepreneurs…). We do enjoy this variety of horizons.


  • 2 months in class examining Social Business themes and studying the involvement of business in the fight against poverty, complementing students' main fields of study.
  • A Hands-on experience in a business, in a structure of social integration, or in a project of social entrepreneurship involved in fighting poverty.
  • A certificate is awarded to students who complete the above.

Chaired by...


The Social Business Certificate is proposed by the Social Business / Enterprise and Poverty teaching and research chair.

Its aims are:

  • To contribute to training a new generation of managers, aware of societal challenges and aspiring to be part of the solution, regardless of their professional activity.
  • To develop quality research on strategic innovation in societal fields on the theme of social business, and the ways in which business can fight poverty.
  • To contribute to an inclusive economy, in France and in other developed countries as well as in developing countries. This initiative brings together HEC academics, large firms, government members and heads of the non-profit organizations with the objective of alleviating poverty through business.

The Chair is co-presided by:

  •  Professor Muhammad Yunus, known as the ‘banker of the poor’, economist and Bangladeshi entrepreneur, is the founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner. He has also been HEC Honoris Causa Profeassor since 2005.
  • Martin Hirsch, graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the ENA, former President of the "Emmaus France" charity organization, was until recently High Commissioner for Active Solidarities and High Commissioner to Youth in the French government. He is now Head of the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris.

The Chair receives financial support from Danone, Schneider Electric, Renault, the French government (DGCS) and private donors.

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