Program Spotlight – Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship Program at the ALIThe American Language Institute (ALI) at San Diego State University is offering a Social Entrepreneurship certificate program focusing on businesses that solve social problems. Students study business trends and innovative entrepreneurships, then create a business that will positively impact society.

The students are taking a variety of social entrepreneurship and business content classes in English instruction with a curriculum incorporating case studies, guest speakers, on-campus resources, and technology. There will also be field trips where these international students can witness real-life experiences in the United States.

In addition, students are provided with an opportunity to join the SDSU Entrepreneur Society, thus being able interact with American students and gain networking opportunities. Through the Entrepreneur Society, students can access the Zahn and Lavin centers on main campus in providing resources to assist in the students’ creation of social enterprises.

Classes are structured to improve entrepreneurial skills, business knowledge and practical English ability while focusing on successful social business models and strategies. Students will also be required to take a weekly Social Entrepreneurship seminar that provides instruction on social entrepreneurship ideas and tools to develop their ideas into social enterprises.

Designed for students with intermediate to advanced English-language proficiency, the program is completely unique in that no other university offers social entrepreneurship in combination with English-language instruction. Students gain enhanced English proficiency, a marketable skill, and an international framework for a business plan.

Here’s a look at what students developed in previous Social Entrepreneurship programs:

Oscar Neto had a dream to eliminate poverty in his home country of Brazil. Neto’s business model involved partnership with Kiva, a non-profit organization that gives any person the opportunity to lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity and alleviate poverty around the world.

“That we can actually give a chance for those who are in need, that’s just amazing,” he said. “And you can do that pretty easy.”

Shao-Yu Fang’s goal was to upgrade the level of the mushroom industry in his native Taiwan. “They don’t have knowledge, training, or modern equipment,” said Fang. “Ninety-five percent of mushroom farmers fail in Taiwan.”

His Amo Mushroom company would assist underprivileged mushroom farmers by upgrading their skills and equipment. Additionally, Amo would offer cultivation bags, also known as strain bags, in which mushrooms are grown, at 10 cents per unit versus the current $3 per bag.

Hiroka Nagata created a business model for connecting abandoned pets with potential owners in her native Japan, where 200,000 abandoned dogs and cats are euthanized every year.

Jia-Siang (Ian) Guo of Taiwan proposed a company called H&P (Happiness & Peaceful) which would donate one box of machi—a dumpling-like dessert—to an underprivileged child for every box purchased. Aesthetically flawed (but equally delicious) machi would also be donated.

Concluded Neto: “I want to get back to my country and change things for the better.”