A Visual Approach for Developing Social Enterprises

November 17, 2020

Some years ago I had the honor to meet Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his social enterprise the Grameen Bank. In the workshop organized by Social Business Earth, the Business Model Canvas was used to brainstorm and ideate social businesses. A visual template! And not really a fitting one for ideating…

Studying the effectiveness of templates for business purposes is my research area, so I talked to Prof. Yunus and asked what he thought of utilizing specific visuals for facilitating the process of creating and growing a social business. He encouraged me to carry on with the idea, and here we are few years later… with the framework developed and utilized for MBA courses on social entrepreneurship, and finally, published!

In our article you can find lots of examples of visual techniques to be used not only for ideating a social innovation, but also for acquiring resources, scaling the social impact and monitoring the impact! The framework can also be used as a teaching guide for courses and workshops in social entrepreneurship.

Reference: Bresciani S, Eppler M.J. (2020). A Visual Approach for Developing Social Enterprises. Multidisciplinary Business Review, 13 (2), 91-104. ISSN 0718-400X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.35692/07183992.13.2.9


The emerging interest in social entrepreneurship is challenged in practice by the complexity of balancing economic and social aspects, and by the difficulties of getting the public to understand the very concept of social enterprising. How can we support social entrepreneurs in developing and growing their organizations? The cognitive advantages of thinking and working visually are well established in the literature, but not yet applied to guide the entire social enterprising process. Mapping and communicating ideas visually can provide several benefits, not only in the ideation phase, but also for managing, optimizing, and growing a social enterprise. We present a framework with visual formats that can be utilized by social entrepreneurs in each specific phase of the social enterprise development: (1) idea generation, (2) social enterprise model refinement, (3) idea promotion and resources acquisition, (4) planning, (5) sales and instructions, (6) scaling impact, and (7) measuring and monitoring. At a theoretical level, the framework aims to structure and summarize the benefits of visual representations of knowledge for the field of social entrepreneurship. This visual approach has practical applications for social entrepreneurs who can utilize it as an overarching tool, for an informed selection and use of visualizations to support the development of their social ventures.
Keywords: Social entrepreneurship, visualization, visual maps, social business, canvas, visual techniques, Peru.

El interés emergente por el emprendimiento social se ve desafiado en la práctica por la complejidad de equilibrar los aspectos económicos y sociales, y por las dificultades para lograr que el público comprenda el concepto mismo de emprendimiento social. ¿Cómo podemos ayudar a los emprendedores sociales a desarrollar y hacer crecer sus organizaciones? Las ventajas cognitivas de pensar y trabajar visualmente están bien establecidas en la literatura, pero aún no se aplican para guiar todo el proceso emprendedor social. El mapeo y la comunicación de ideas visualmente pueden proporcionar varios beneficios no solo en la fase de ideación, sino también para administrar, optimizar y hacer crecer una empresa social. Presentamos un marco con formatos visuales que pueden ser utilizados por emprendedores sociales en cada fase específica del desarrollo de la empresa social: (1) generación de ideas, (2) refinamiento del modelo de empresa social, (3) promoción de ideas y adquisición de recursos, (4) planificación, (5) ventas e instrucciones, (6) ampliación del impacto y (7) medición y seguimiento. A nivel teórico, el marco tiene como objetivo estructurar y resumir los beneficios de las representaciones visuales del conocimiento para el campo del emprendimiento social. Este enfoque visual tiene aplicaciones prácticas para los emprendedores sociales que pueden utilizarlo como una herramienta general, para una selección informada y el uso de visualizaciones para apoyar el desarrollo de sus empresas sociales.
Palabras clave: emprendimiento social, visualización, mapas visuales, social business, modelo visual, Perù

Peace Nobel Laureate Prof. Yunus at the Social Business Conference 2013

May 16, 2013

The second Social Business conference was held yesterday, with the keynote speech of Prof. Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and author of “Social Business”.

His talk was insighful, very pragmatic and full of hope, as ususal. It was also different from last year speech, with new inspiring stories from US and Albania, among others.

As USI President Martinoli said in the opening speech, Prof. Yunus is a great example of how academia can bring a remarkable positive change in the society!

yunus social business conference 2013

Kolours and Prof Yunus

Fair trade at the Latin American Day, University of St. Gallen

April 18, 2013

Today the Latin American Day 2013 took place at the University of St. Gallen, organized by Aiesec, and focused on the topic of Fair Trade.

The founder of the company Eco Terra, Dr. Carmina Alvarado De Van Bergerem, and her husband gave a very lively presentation on quinoa, the special grain. The started the company in 2006, importing Quinoa from Bolivia to Europe and also to the US. Quinoa is a unique cereal because it is gluten free and is very nutritious. The high quality quinoa grows above 4500 meters of altitude, a very challenging environment for humans, animals and plants. This is part of the reason why quinoa is both more nutritious, but also more expensive than other cereals. The UN has called 2013 the year of the Quinoa, emphasising the importance of this grain type to fight malnutrition in the world. You can use quinoa as cereal in the morning, to make soup or even to make quinoa-risotto, burgers or cereal bars. A great example of social business & looking forward to the webshop!


The day concluded with a panel moderated by Prof. Eppler: among the panelist there was Francesco Illy, of Illy caffe and founder of Amici Caffè, Tobias Meier of Helvetas/Max Havelaar, Dr. Christiane Berth of the university, Heiko Specking of Credit Suisse and Nicolas Niklewicz of Impact Economy.


Muhammad Yunus in Switzerland, May 2012

April 12, 2012

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, will be in Lugano and Zurich in May 18th and 19th 2012. The event is organized by Social Business Earth, the first social business in Switzerland funded by Samantha Caccamo. The event will start in Lugano, in the aula magna of the university at 5pm and will continue in Zurich the following day in Zurich at Hüb Zurich at 10 am.
Professor Yunus, from Bangladesh, is the founder of the Grameen Bank, the inventor of micro-credit and author of Banker to the Poor; A World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism (2008) and Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs  (2010).

According to the organizers, the objective of the conferennces is “Raising awareness on the concept of Social Business in Switzerland to serve humanity’s most pressing needs and spearheading new initiatives in the private, public and social sectors through Social Business”. The keynote speaker will be Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Professor Yunus himself will grace the conference and interact personally with participants from various walks of life as he looks to promote his concept of social business throughout the world. Social Business aims to offer an alternative to profit maximizing businesses, utilizing economic tools to solve social problems in financially sustainable ways and fostering a more humane capitalism to change the world.” (Source: Social business earth).

Registration is now open.

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