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Master's programs

Inclusive & Social Business Certificate

Inclusive & Social Business Certificate

Why so much talk about inclusive economy?  

The reason is simple: The growth of the past decades has not been inclusive. Many business leaders have understood for years that non-inclusive growth is not sustainable, but the rise of global extreme poverty, the acceleration of inequality and the appearance of social anger has driven the movement to a new stage of awareness and accelerated calls to corporate action. 

The Inclusive Economy Center of S&O Institute has been working on the contours of inclusive economy since 2008 - when HEC Paris created its Social Business Chair, with the support of Danone, Schneider Electric, Groupe Renault, Veolia but also with partners such as Action Tank Social & Business and Archipel & Co. 

The Center draws on 14 years of experience, reflection, and interaction with the private sphere, public sphere, and civil society to address the fundamentals of an inclusive economy and business. A report “Inclusive Business: What It Is and Why It Matters” was released by S&O as part of the B4IG (Business 4 Inclusive Growth) platform framework. 

Missions and objectives of the program

The I&SB Certificate is a annual 6-week full-time program taught in English. 

It is open to a selection of HEC Paris students but it has always welcomed a few non-HEC participants who want to explore the social business ecosystem and who are motivated and willing to reflect with us on the role of business in the fight against poverty. These persons would be exchange students, Institut de l'Engagement's laureates, visiting professors, or business people. 

The Certificate’s objectives are to:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of specific social issues and reflect on the role that firms can play in society to address them 
  • Explore new economic models in both developed and developing countries 
  • Investigate new co-creation systems involving businesses, civil society, public authorities, academics, etc.. 
  • Critically analyze firms' attempts to develop inclusive business models, to understand key pitfalls and success factors 
  • Develop a good knowledge of specific tools and methods that firms can use, such as Social Impact Assessment, Impact investing, Behavioral Economics in Action, and understand under which conditions they should be used 
  • See how firms can concretely combine and reconcile a search for meaning and social impact with a business activity 

The idea is not necessarily for our participants to work in social enterprises upon graduation – yet we hope that some of them will. Rather, the key is that they acquire an awareness of the importance of societal issues in their field of work, and – when given the opportunity – that they take a leadership role in their organization.

The Certificate consists of two distinct components.

Students complete an in class “theoretical” module that explores Inclusive & Social Business themes and studies business involvement in the fight against poverty. This complements all students' main fields of study, with courses such as: Multinationals & Low-income communities; Social Entrepreneurship; Finance & Social Innovation; « Access to .. » with sessions designed to analyze actual inclusive business models developed in key "access" areas such as energy, mobility, food, or health; and « Methods & Tools » with sessions such as social impact assessment and behavioral economics.

The second module is "in the field", with a hands-on experience of 3 to 4 days spent in a social organization and a "field project"

  • The Immersion week:

The objective is for participants to immerse themselves in the field of poverty alleviation by spending 3 to 4 days with social entrepreneurs and social organizations. The idea is both to spend time co-working in the field and to meet managers who are helping alleviate poverty. Such an immersion is meaningful and full of learning potential. It consistently makes an impact on participants’ lives.

  • The Fieldwork:

The Fieldwork is an integral part of the Certificate. Participants are expected to work on a “field project” throughout the six-week-program with five days earmarked so that participants have time in the field. They can either design a social business model to tackle a specific social issue, or they can choose to do an Individual Project—individually or in small groups—as some participants may already have a social business project they would like to develop.

Here are some of the 2021 and 2022 partners: ARES Ateliers Sans Frontières , ANDES- Potager de Marianne, Emmaüs Défi , Extramuros, Jardin de Cocagne de Limon, Association La Mie de pain, Association La Cloche, Lemon Tri, Rebond Insertion, La Gerbe - Les Mureaux, ENVIE Trappes, Farinez-vous, Equalis, TAE - ATD Quart Monde, APTE, CEDRE, Tricycle environnement et les Jardins d'Auteuil 

Immersion Logos 2021

Faculty and Experts:

  • Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot, Affiliate Professor of Strategy & Business Policy, Executive Director of the Society & Organizations (S&O) Center
  • Jacques Berger, Director of Action Tank “Entreprise & Pauvreté”
  • Jean-Marc Guesné, former Head of Ashoka France, Partner at Archipel & Co 
  • Adrien Baudet (H.2013), Ph.D, Partner and Director of KOREIS, a social impact research and consulting firm
  • Olivier Kayser, Founder and CEO of Hystra consulting firm
  • Alice Magand, Consultant in Inclusive Business, Strategy Consultant at Hystra
  • Rachel Maignan, Investment manager, Agence Française du Développement (AFD)
  • David Menascé, Founding managing Partner, Archipel & Co consulting firm specialized in BoP strategies
  • Laurence Moret, External Communication, Institutional Partnerships and Documentary Director, Crédit Coopératif
  • Charles-Edouard Vincent, CEO and Founder of Lulu dans ma rue and Founder of Emmaüs Défi
  • Patricia Thornton, Visiting Distinguished Professor at HEC Paris (2019-2020), Author, Professor of Sociology and Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University

And other inspiring people:

  • Emmanuel Faber, former Chairman and CEO of Danone
  • Martin Hirsch, former High Commissioner for Active Solidarities and High Commissioner for Youth in the French government (2007-2010), now Head of the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris
  • Professor Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006
S&O Inclusive Logo Blue

Launched in 2008, the Society & Organizations Institute is an interdisciplinary Institute at HEC Paris that brings together over 60 researchers and professors. Together, we carry out research, teach and implement ideas to organize and lead our responses to the daunting challenges of our time. These contemporary challenges include climatic constraints, social inequality, loss of purpose, technological disruption, epidemics, social contestation, ethical imperatives, and liberalization and regulation.  

The S&O Institute with its three centers: Purposeful LeadershipInclusive Economy and Climate & Earth, addresses key challenges following the THINK, TEACH, ACT approach.  

Today, the Inclusive Center's research, teaching, and actions contribute to a more inclusive economy, where businesses seek to maximize their social impact together with their economic performance.

It is supported by the following sponsor:

At S&O, we believe that businesses have a central role to play through the investments they make, the jobs they create, the products and services they provide, and the supply chains upon which they depend.

Student's story

Master's programs

Collins Kimaro

Having recently launched a social enterprise in Tanzania, the Inclusive and Social Business Certificate has been a great learning experience so far! It has provided research-based insights and practical...

Master's programs

Ester Galende Sanchez

The Social Business Certificate has allowed me to delve deeper into issues of poverty and inequality, and how global issues can be tackled from a business perspective, through startups, multinationals...

Society & Organizations Institute

Adolfo Diaz Valdez

Adolfo Diaz Valdez is a 2015 graduate of the Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation and the Inclusive and Social Business Certificate from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He launched the first Social...


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