Specialization Series: Inspire Change in Social Business

From Paris to Marseille to Bangalore, this EMBA Specialization seeks to place participants on the cutting edge in the purpose-driven businesses of tomorrow. Helmed by Professor David Menasce, it also aims to provide them with concrete tools to implement strategies that are financially successful while at the same time having positive social impact.

This Specialization tackles an area of business that has been growing in scope since the emergence of Asia, India, and Africa as economic leaders has profoundly reshaped globalization and economic competition.

Many multinational companies have opened R&D centers in emerging markets to tap into local customer needs. But these tend to focus solely on affluent urban buyers when most consumers in emerging economies—almost 4 billion people— live on less than $8 a day. They are a huge swathe of the world’s population and yet they are often neglected by traditional business.

Such low-income markets, often depicted as the “base of the pyramid”, are sources of immense business opportunities. Rather than adopting token or philanthropic approaches, an increasing number of enterprises are approaching the challenge of serving this largely untapped market more effectively by designing new social business models.

“I’m convinced that market-based solutions that address poverty and other social and environmental challenges are more effective than traditional humanitarian responses,” says Felipe Franco (EMBA 2019) an alum of the Specialization.


Specialization goals

Inspire Change in Social Business was devised for HEC Paris EMBA participants who wish to zero in on these domains.

Its goal is to inspire the next generation of purpose-driven global business leaders. Best practices both from changemakers operating with both the unique complexities of emerging markets and mature markets will also be examined. It offers concrete tools to implement strategies that are financially successful and that retain positive social impact.

The program will also look at how new business models designed for low-income consumers can help to alleviate poverty.

The program seeks to provide participants with new ways of innovating in emerging and developed countries across scales, from multinationals to entrepreneurs to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The program provides an in-depth analysis of these new strategies in emerging and mature markets, exemplified by the Specialization’s on-sites in Bangalore and Marseille, and the concrete tools to build new value propositions to meet the needs of emerging market consumers more effectively.

The trip to Bangalore (IIMB) in India, includes lectures, presentations, and discussions led by professors on frugal innovation, reverse innovation, new business models at the base of the pyramid, social entrepreneurship, sustainability in emerging markets, and public private partnerships.

Marseille, France

Part of the Specialization takes place in Marseille, not far from the city’s Old Port.

Why Marseille?

Marseille exemplifies the complex market dynamics of mature markets. France’s second-largest city embodies all the complexities of mature markets: rising inequality, poverty, an at-risk lower middle class, social exclusion, as well as many opportunities: dynamism, youth, diversity, entrepreneurship, and a vibrant eco-system of startups.

Part of this ecosystem is Laurent Choukroun, EMBA 2019, who is an alum of the Innovation in Social Business Specialization. With his partners at Synergie Family, his start-up, he purchased the former Marseille headquarters of Pernod-Ricard, turning it into l’Epopée, 12000m2 of co-working space dedicated to educational innovation and career development. It rapidly become an iconic center for social innovation in France.

“I was already involved in the social business sphere, but the EMBA and the Specialization have given me the tools, the inspiration and the self-confidence to go faster and higher and eventually create a place that will have, I think, a great impact not only in Marseille but more broadly in France,” he says.

His is a prime example of a Innovation in Social Business participant going on to foster a culture of creativity, strategic innovation, and leadership by applying sustainable innovation and learning in all organizations.

“..the first key takeaway of the program is the importance of leveraging the social capital already present in the local society and capitalizing on the sense of community to create trust and expand impact..”

Bangalore, India

Another portion of the Specialization sees participants traveling to Bangalore.

Key Program Takeaways

Fellow 2019 EMBA alum Felipe Franco neatly articulated his key takeaways of the program.

“For me, the first key takeaway of the program is the importance of leveraging the social capital already present in the local society and capitalizing on the sense of community to create trust and expand impact. A second key takeaway is how innovating with digital technologies can facilitate scaling and make life easier for customers. A final crucial takeaway is that ecosystems are key. You must work with other businesses, with universities, with the non-profit sector and with the government in order to create value. The richer your network the greater your chances of success.”

More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe. Nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris offers the best EMBA program in the world; click here to learn more.

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