Ignatian Pedagogy for Social Entrepreneurship: Twelve Years Helping 500 Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs Validates the GSBI Methodology
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AbstractIn frontier economies, social entrepreneurship has emerged as a successful strategy to pursue sustainable development goals. By creatively blending business strategy, technology innovation and a deep understanding of customer need, social enterprises provide a pathway out of poverty, an alternative to private charity and government aid. Social entrepreneurs are developing strategies to make available distributed energy products, clean cooking and clean water technologies, and sustainable livelihoods. Social entrepreneurship is a pro-poor economic development strategy that promotes the common good. Many social entrepreneurs describe their work with terms like calling or moral purpose or vocation, harkening the emphasis in the Ignatian spiritual exercises on making an election. Launched in 2003, the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI ® ), at Santa Clara University was and is a pioneer in the field of social enterprise capacity development. Originally conceived as a social enterprise incubator, GSBI now offers a diversified portfolio of programs. The GSBI has worked with more than 340 social enterprises. These operate in more than 60 countries, and have raised US$96 million in funding. The GSBI does not deploy explicit religious language, however, its educational philosophy is shaped by Jesuit educational values. It recruits and selects social entrepreneurs who serve the poor, and places them in stage-appropriate programs to help them grow and serve more people. The GSBI provides a structured curriculum combined with customized mentoring by experienced Silicon Valley executives. This follows very closely the notion of cura personalis , the personalized spiritual accompaniment provided by Jesuit spiritual directors, and is consistent with classic Jesuit educational philosophy. This pedagogy of accompaniment provides optimal support for people to make progress toward their divinely gifted potential. Perhaps most important of all, Ignatian spirituality and the social entrepreneurship movement share an inspiring moral imagination. Both are unreasonable in their insistence that more can be done to alleviate the unjust suffering of the poor. The GSBI bridges these two realms, exchanging the inspiration and practical can-do of both social entrepreneurs and Ignatian pedagogy. The social entrepreneurship movement benefits from GSBIs pedagogical approach, and Jesuit Catholic higher education benefits from collaborating with this practical social justice movement.