Guest post featuring work by Rupert Scofield, author of The Social Entrepreneurs Handbook: How to Start, Build and Run a Business that Improves the World.
In the last decade, social entrepreneurship has been touted as one of the most promising ways to solve some of the world’s problematic issues. “How Social Entrepreneurship is Helping to Improve Education Worldwide”, a McGraw-Hill Research Foundation policy paper, outlines specific ways in which social enterprise is improving education in the U.S. and in developing countries. Written by Rupert Scofield, President and CEO of The Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA), a global microfinance network, it underscores the power of harnessing philosophies of for-profit business to create organizations that are mission-driven, innovative, sustainable, and effective.
The global education sector has struggled in recent years to cope with issues ranging from the achievement gap and limited accessibility to a general decline in educational quality. Government impasse and stretched financial resources have only deepened this crisis in education. In developing countries, failure of government and market forces to effectively address educational access and quality is even more severe. Scofield shows how social entrepreneurship is playing a key role in devising innovative ways to improve access to and quality of education both domestically and abroad. He uses case studies from four organizations: Genesys Works, The Womens Housing and Economic Development Fund, DonorsChoose.org and The Mann Deshi Foundation to illustrate the effectiveness of the social enterprise model and the impact social entrepreneurship can have on the issues plaguing the education sector including:
- Improving early childhood and youth education in low-income communities
- Introducing alternative channels of funding for education and redefining traditional methods of giving
- Providing basic education and business skills training to underserved and at-risk populations
- Increasing income opportunities for people living in poverty through financial services that allow for start-up or expansion of microenterprises, enabling them to afford education for their children
The ability of social enterprises to become financially sustainable renders them an especially relevant model in these turbulent and uncertain economic times, writes Scofield. Budget cuts mean fewer resources for already underfunded schools and the more opportunities we have to address failures in the sector through interventions that are self-sustaining, the better off our children will be.
Rupert Scofield is the President and CEO of FINCA International, a global microfinance network which provides financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living. Under his leadership, FINCA has grown from 60,000 clients and a loan portfolio of $5 million to over 900,000 clients across five continents and a loan portfolio exceeding $500 million.
The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation was established with the support of The McGraw-Hill Companies and is a Section 501(c)(3) organization.