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“Fact Impact Planet” awarded Best Pedagogical Initiative by HEC Foundation

HEC Paris Professor Florian HOOS, Academic Director and Lise PENILLARD, Executive Director of the MSc in Sustainability and Social Innovation were awarded the HEC Foundation prize for the best educational initiative for the success of their FACT IMPACT PLANET program. A six-month intercultural learning expedition which has truly inspired hundreds of students by giving them real-life working experience to support social entrepreneurs chosen for their social impact and innovative business model in developing countries.

Fact impact Prix fondation

Since its launch, 189 students, in mixed teams of L3 and M1 students, have been trained and taken part in 57 valuable field‐missions for social entrepreneurs in 15 developing and emerging countries. Experiential service learning in the field is at the core of FACT IMPACT PLANET, a program based on what Florian Hoos and Lise Penillard call an ecosystem pedagogy approach. Students have access to the ecosystem that has been built around the program, and are provided with the opportunity to learn based on multiple feedback cycles between the various stakeholders of the program: social entrepreneurs, alumni, peers, the NGO Im’Prove - founding partner of the program, tutors, instructors, guest speakers, and funders.

In addition to the general ecosystem pedagogy, the FACT IMPACT PLANET’s pedagogical approach is based on:

‐ Experiential service learning: Students experience a concrete and useful mission during six months, where they can contribute to their organization’s or entrepreneur’s success. It exposes the students to the opportunities and challenges of a potential professional career path as social entrepreneur or responsible corporate business developer.

‐ Up-to-date hard skills from the fields of social impact measurement, business development, and in terms of how to design and lead rigorous surveys.

‐ Constructive teamwork and peer learning: the focus is on interactive workshops and moderated discussions to encourage active participation of all students, co‐coaching sessions among students, and constructive feedback.

‐ “Nothing is forbidden” mentality: Learning from mistakes and failure, accompanied by a considerable amount of feedback and coaching sessions, as well as (sometimes tough) debates are at the heart of the program to stimulate creativity and critical thinking. It provides vital opportunities for the development of personal and leadership skills. 

The HEC Foundation has awarded the FACT IMPACT PLANET program for fostering long-term motivation for students who want to become changemakers and are willing to develop effective and sustainable solutions to address major social and environmental challenges.Finally, the FACT IMPACT PLANET program is aligned with the socially responsible and entrepreneurial dimension of HEC Paris’ strategy, thereby also offering an in‐depth experience to students who want to orient themselves towards an SnO‐certified learning process: after their participation in FACT IMPACT PLANET, students can deepen their involvement during their gap year (full‐year of field missions for social entrepreneurs around the world with Im’Prove), choose the Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation as their specialization… and potentially later‐on continue towards a career as responsible business developers or social entrepreneurs.

The FACT IMPACT PLANET program was co-founded with the non-profit organization Im’Prove and received support from the HEC Paris Social Business / Enterprise & Poverty Chair since its creation. FACT IMPACT PLANET has received very important financial support from the Sisley-d’Ornano Foundation through scholarships for students, the so called “bourses d’excellence Laetitia d’Ornano”, which allowed them to cover their costs for the missions abroad. The direct involvement of Sisley’s Directors in the final presentations of the program gave an additional message to students, showing how companies, at the highest level, are also interested in the way these social innovations create social and economic impact. 


An impact for students AND entrepreneurs, at the heart of FACT IMPACT PLANET’s objectives:



« Our mission has thrown us into the sprawling slums of an Indian city exposing us to the growing pains of such a huge population, most visibly the problems of waste management. The goal of our 6 week mission is to understand the behaviour of retailers and end customers of EcoAd, a social business employing local women to upcycle newspaper into reusable carry bags designed to replace plastic, which is at the heart of the waste problem. 

So far we've interviewed almost 400 Indian people, either shop owners or end-users on the streets, markets, malls, offices, and parks of Pune. We've also been living with the entrepreneur in his apartment, which means going without mattresses, cutlery, meat, or a Western toilet - surprisingly easy to adapt to! After this course I will be starting an internship in a consulting company focused on projects in developing countries, and the FACT experience, both the course during the semester and now working on the field, has greatly influenced this decision. It's opened my eyes to the complex and challenging social and economic issues in emerging markets, and inspired me to try to have an impact early in my career. »

« FACT Planet is a unique experience, because it relies on an innovative equilibrium between theoretical lectures about social entrepreneurship and impact assessment, and a hands-on approach (i.e., the field mission). Each group could instantly make the most of the course content by putting it into practice within their mission’s preparation. It is a challenging program that encouraged us to constantly adapt ourselves so as to be prepared for any change during the field mission, and cope with a lot of unknowns. The diversity in our group (two German girls and two French boys from different academic backgrounds) quickly became one of our main strengths, as we all could bring different and complementary skills for the sake of the mission.

As for our field mission, our goal was to assess the social impact of a company producing organic eggs on their employees, who are marginalized hill tribe communities living in Northern Thailand’s mountains. This single sentence perfectly sums up FACT Planet’s spirit: a challenging and fascinating project on which we have to leverage our team talents to obtain consistent insights. It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to make the most of our academic background, and to serve a purpose that matters to all of us: social entrepreneurship »

« Needless to say it has been a wonderful and enriching experience, while at the same time an extraordinarily tough challenge - FACT missions are complicated in themselves, but to do them in another language adds a level of difficulty! It took quite a while and was quite tricky for our team to adapt to each other. It has been a wonderful experience, discovering a whole new country and continent, and also discovering the Francophone world. From the mission point of view, it has been an excellent first professional experience for me going beyond impact assessment into full blown consulting as per the demands of the entrepreneur. From a professional point of view, it's simply unmatched in terms of value addition to the resume and it helped me get an internship in consulting for my gap year. All in all it's something I'd recommend in strongest terms possible! »


“Nearly two years after I had finished the Fact Planet program I was flying to Paris for my HEC graduation. On my flight I started talking with the lady beside me and the conversation eventually turned to jobs and what each of our reasons were for flying to our final destinations. She happened to work for a venture capital firm that focused on investing in startup renewable energy companies. I thought there might be a connection with the company that my classmate and I worked with for fact planet, Azuri. I told her about my experience with Fact Planet and we started talking about small scale renewable energy. After a while she said she had something to show me and pulled out her computer. After sifting through some emails, she pulled up a presentation that had been sent to her from Azuri. The presentation, incidentally enough, contained work from our mission in Kenya.   This is an example of why the Fact Program is such a powerful teaching model and cool program. Students are given theoretical frameworks and then thrown into a situation where they can directly apply the frameworks. Not only that, but the students are able to provide data and insights that can truly help the business. The combination of experiential and theoretical learning and the potential for impact provide a great recipe for success!“

Testimonial from an entrepreneur: “The team of two HEC students have led an incredible work, that will certainly change the course of my enterprise, opening many new possibilities and opportunities to conquer new clients. The study that they delivered opened doors to investors and the Government ! I will certainly be interested in such a study in the future ! »