Why MBA’s are Gravitating Toward Social Ventures

James Keck MBA ’24

TFC Social Innovation Strategy Chair 2023 – 2024

A quick reminder of why we’re all here: The Turner Family Center (TFC) for Social Ventures is committed to developing socially andSocial Innovation Strategy Chair MBA '24 environmentally conscious leaders and doers. We believe in leaving the world and our communities better than we found them.

There’s a growing trend of MBAs pursuing careers in social entrepreneurship and impact investing. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the number of social enterprises has increased substantially over the past decade. Top business schools now host competitions like the Turner MIINT; centers have been developed at top MBA programs, like the TFC and the Rustandy Center; and incubators and accelerators like Echoing Green and the Skoll Foundation have spun up to support students interested in launching or joining mission-driven companies. The sheer volume of opportunities for change-making speaks to the attention social ventures now demand from young, business-minded people.

Briefly, impact investing is the allocation of capital with the stated objective of generating measurable social and environmental returns alongside financial returns. More importantly, it is the acknowledgment that financial gains are life’s necessity, not its purpose. For this purpose, we must aim higher. We must pursue acts that leave our world better than we found it.

This life dictum is bolstered by the evidence that focusing on mission-driven results does not impinge financial returns. Indeed, this understanding speaks to today’s MBA students’ desire to give back and create positive lasting change. In a Stanford Social Innovation Review survey, 67% of MBAs said they plan to apply their business skills to benefit society. Social ventures allow them to satisfy this urge by tackling pressing social and environmental issues through sustainable business models. The appeal also comes from the boundary-spanning nature of these roles, which integrate functions like marketing, operations and finance to further a social mission. For example, this MBA ’21 grad pursued an MBA with the explicit purpose of finding a role as an impact investor. Similarly, this student had secured corporate jobs at reputable corporations yet chose a role at a social venture. In addition, this MBA graduate left a career in corporate finance for the European Investment Fund (EIF), focusing on impact venture capital.

For MBAs, social ventures provide a unique opportunity to utilize their business education for social good. Through conducting market research, financial modeling, impact analysis, and other core skills learned in business school, they can help scale solutions to global challenges. The level of responsibility is also greater in early-stage social enterprises compared to established corporate jobs. This means top talent has the opportunity to flex their recently acquired skillset to affect high-impact change. In other words, MBAs can take on leadership positions and influence strategy from day one.

Although the switch to social entrepreneurship was historically concomitant to financial tradeoffs, many MBAs are finding well-paid opportunities within the growing niche of impact ventures. More importantly, these burgeoning business leaders find deeper satisfaction in their everyday life. Many find a real sense of peace in aligning their daily work with their core values. Moreover, a growing number of enterprises are redefining corporate responsibility, allowing high-performing MBAs access to social impact work without sacrificing the security of a corporate role.

Projections estimate the broader impact investing market will continue expanding substantially in the coming years. According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), assets under management could reach $717 billion by 2025. As the field matures, we can expect this trend to continue with more MBAs entering the space and launching innovative social ventures of their own. Business school graduates are realizing they can do well by doing good – and the world is better for it.