Between Enactus Memorial’s record of success over the past decade and the launch of the Centre for Social Enterprise last year, Memorial University already has a sterling reputation as a leader in social enterprise and entrepreneurship.
That renown will soon be strengthened with a new master-level program through the school’s faculty of business administration.
The 12-month program, starting this fall, aims to train new business leaders in a new way of doing business in public, private and not-for-profit sectors, one that focuses on three pillars of sustainability — people, planet and profits.
Faculty dean Isabelle Dostaler calls them agents of change.
“Yes, you need to be a good manager, but you also need to have that extra little thing where you’re there to change society as much as you can,” she says. “Truly participate in economic development, but in a way where everybody can participate.”
Social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, loosely speaking, develops, funds and implements solutions to social, cultural or environmental issues.
“It is not at all your typical mindset where you’re obsessed with profit and giving value to shareholders. In a sense it’s that old notion of value that is being redefined,” says Dostaler. “It really is value to the society and creating a better world.
“You see that in large companies that are in the traditional economy but that are waking up and wondering, ‘What can we do to be a good corporate citizen?’”
Locally, one can look to Stella’s Circle’s Hungry Heart, a full-service restaurant that employs vulnerable adults and uses revenue to fund employment training, or the Shorefast Foundation, which is dedicated to creating cultural and economic resiliency for Fogo Island and Change Islands, as prime examples.
MUN has partnered with the latter organization on a research project to examine how the model is helping to facilitate rural economic development and revitalization. Dostaler says it is the ultimate example of social entrepreneurship.
“We’re fortunate to have that in the province as a field for us to study, and the idea is always to see what are the best practice and can we replicate that elsewhere.”
MUN isn’t the first Canadian post-secondary institution to offer study options in the field, but it is the first to offer a full MBA program in social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Moreover, unlike traditional MBAs where you have a number of common core courses along with specialized courses, the faculty is building courses from scratch.
“It’s a big undertaking and it’s also a very exciting one for faculty members,” says Dostaler. “This concept of social enterprise will be diffused across all of the curriculum, so the courses that you will follow in this program will have nothing to do with the courses that we offer to you in a more traditional MBA program.”
Another way it differs from other MBA programs is that applicants can treat volunteer experience like they would work experience.
“That’s kind of neat because it’s opening the doors to a clientele that you wouldn’t necessarily look at otherwise,” Dostaler says.
It’s also significantly more expensive than the two-year master of business administration offered at MUN. For Newfoundland and Labrador students, the program — 17 courses over two 16-credit hour semesters and a four-month internship — comes at a cost of roughly $25,500, almost three times the cost of the standard MBA ($8,943.46). That number jumps to over $33,000 for international students, who would pay about $12,900 for the pre-existing MBA program.
The bulk of the cost comes from special fee of $20,000 for provincial and Canadian applicants, and $25,000 for international students.
“It’s an expensive thing to run and given the current fiscal situation, we are in a complete cost-recovery mode, so we cannot launch something that will be a cost to the rest of the university,” says Dostaler, adding that some scholarships are available and the search is on for donors to help take the sting off the cost.
“It’s a nice thing, this idea of combining potential donors with students that they will be helping go through that program.”
The faculty hopes to attract an inaugural class of 20 students, and Dostaler says they’ve already had several inquiries, both local and international.
More information about the program, its courses, and application requirements is available online dat business.mun.ca/programs/masters/mba-see/.