Social change

Forum for Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is an increasingly relevant issue and here at Vlerick we’re keen to stimulate and aid related activities. This gives us the opportunity to apply our entrepreneurial principles in organising, creating and managing a venture – not one designed to generate profit and return but rather to achieve social change. One of the ways in which we foster social entrepreneurship is through the Forum for Social Entrepreneurship, a platform that believes an enterprise approach is the best way to create jobs, empower the poor and transform communities.

The Forum was founded by Professor Hans Crijns, Frank Verzele and a group of entrepreneurs within our network. It aims to increase awareness of social entrepreneurship through management education, network sharing and, of particular interest for budding social entrepreneurs at Masters and MBA level, funding for in-company projects. “The Forum basically pays the fee,” explains Kim Swyngedouw, Product Manager for Open Executive Education. “Although the project goes through the same screening as any other project, the Forum is brought in to assess the company’s social entrepreneurial aspect. They may have a commercial mindset, have a business model and make a profit or loss, but they put their profit back into the company to focus on the particular social issue they’re working on.” The result is a win-win situation in which the students get hands-on experience of how social entrepreneurship works, and the organisations get a solid project report presenting clear solutions ready for implementation.

The funding provider – De Boer

“Entrepreneurship can generate welfare”
Dirk Mertens, Managing Director De Boer Waterproofing Solutions

Funding for the Forum comes from a group of generous companies within our network. Commercial and family-owned, they see it as a means of giving something back to society. One of these companies is De Boer, producer and supplier of waterproofing solutions and services. “We’re very fortunate to be entrepreneurs in this environment,” explains Dirk Mertens. “And we believe that entrepreneurship can generate welfare. As a means of promoting this concept in less fortunate areas, we support organisations that have this same goal and are active in underdeveloped regions. It’s an idea that was born out of the entrepreneurial heart of Vlerick and reflects its social positioning.”

The social organisation – Trias vzw

"The students highlighted opportunities we hadn’t thought of”
Françoise Dejaeger, Head of HR/LOG & Fundraising & External Communication at Trias vzw

Thanks to the Forum, two of our students took on an in-company project for Trias. With its partner organisations, this NGO sets up sustainable projects for micro-entrepreneurs and family farmers in the South. Francoise Dejaeger: “In order to work more efficiently and transparently, we needed to develop a CRM system. But as we’re reliant on subsidies and donations, it’s not something we can afford to invest in.” In just eight weeks, two students mapped out how Trias works and what it needed for a CRM system. “Our organisation is complex, but their final report presented well-founded recommendations,” Françoise comments. “It covered our CRM needs, but also highlighted opportunities we hadn’t thought of, linking systems and departments within the organisation.”

A fresh look at your company

“As a bonus, companies meet new high-potential recruits”
Sara Teuwen, Programme Manager at Vlerick

For our MBA and Masters students, the in-company project is an important final stage of their studies. “The projects basically provide companies with three on-site consultants fully dedicated to producing a document in just two months,” explains Sara Teuwen. “The final report not only explains the consultancy question and how it was handled, but also provides concrete tips on how to implement these recommendations.” The projects cover a broad range of potential subjects, from market entry strategy to activity-based costing. “The students apply the latest business theories, and also get expertise support from our professors. And as a bonus, companies get to meet new high-potential recruits.”

Do you want our students to take a fresh look at your company? Submit your in-company proposals through  

  • Market research projects by 31 December 2012
  • General & financial management projects by 31 January 2013.

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