Friday, July 10, 2009

Jesuit B-schools preach social entrepreneurship

From DNA

Mumbai: "We want to build managers who are able to start ventures that can alleviate poverty and deal with environment issues," said Father Abraham, director, Xavier's Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur. He was speaking at the 15th World Forum of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS). XLRI Jamshedpur hosted the forum which saw deans, directors and senior professors from B-schools in USA, Europe, Asia Pacific stressing on developing a network to support social entrepreneurship.

Post the forum the IAJBS has become a signatory of the UN principles for Responsible Management and will ask all member institutes to adhere to them. A sustainability development committee will be formed to ensure that Jesuit B-schools globally adhere to the principles.

"The committee will ensure that schools include sustainable development in the curriculum, and offer it as an academic programme," said Abraham. In keeping with UN's principles, schools will review programme syllabi and course structure. The focus on enhancing and managing financial wealth will be balanced with equal number of courses on enhancing social and environmental capital. "There are very few academic social science inputs in the course-work which is why students fail to understand that socio-environmental issues impact businesses," said Abraham.

In India, around 17 top ranking Jesuit B-schools will alter their admissions process along with curriculums. "Socio-environmental concerns and ethical fibre of a student, beyond just landing a lucrative job from an MBA will form a non-negotiable part of admissions," informed Abraham. Even the way these B-schools function will undergo a change. The use of solar power, rainwater harvesting, recycling paper will teach sustainability.

Schools will also look atintroducing compulsory internships with social/development sector organisations. By October, a task force formed for sustainability development will take into account all members' comments and present a final draft before the IAJBS board which will include the best sustainability projects from across the globe. "We have also proposed that every member school should set up a Chair Professorship in Sustainable Development, so that this movement can be carried forward by every B school," said Abraham.

In fact, XLRI has been the first Indian B-school committed to these principles since the last two years. "We have already started offering electives and core courses in the MBA programme for students in environmental strategy, social laws, business ethics," informed Abraham. The institute recently held the first National Social Entrepreneurship Conference which covered critical issues in education, energy, credit, healthcare, livelihood opportunities, and natural resources which could be resolved by enterprising management graduates.

Encouraged by these, students at the institute started social ventures. In the last year, three ventures took off. The first Parichay links tribal artisans and rural craftsmen with the mainstream market and increases their profit margins. The second is Swalamban which provides electricity to villages through ox-driven generators. While, the third is called, which donates money to registered charitable organisations; for every market research survey filled by visitors.

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