Europe’s first centre for social entrepreneurship is to be established at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School following a donation of almost £4.5 million from the Skoll Foundation, established by Jeff Skoll, the first employee and first president of eBay.
The donation is one of the largest ever received by a business school for an academic development and reflects the growing interest in social entrepreneurship worldwide.
The Centre will advance social entrepreneurship to benefit disadvantaged communities around the world.
Unlike business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are motivated by a desire to improve society. Despite this difference, social entrepreneurs are just as innovative and change-oriented as their business counterparts, searching for new and better ways to solve the problems that plague society.
In the words of Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, a global nonprofit organisation devoted to developing the profession of social entrepreneurship, "social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionised the fishing industry."
"Social entrepreneurship applies the principles of business entrepreneurship to societal problems," Jeff Skoll said. "Supporting Oxford’s Saïd Business School enables the creation of a new international education programme that teaches the concepts of social entrepreneurship."
The Skoll Centre will emphasising research in the field and offering a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree specialising in social entrepreneurship to those who complete a one-year programme.
The Foundation is also funding five MBA scholarships every year that will allow 'Skoll Scholars' to focus specifically on social entrepreneurship. As part of their studies, the students will develop a social business plan and undertake a consultancy project in social entrepreneurship.
Anthony Hopwood, Dean of Saïd Business School, added, “The launch of the Skoll Centre comes at a time when there is increasing need for entrepreneurial approaches to social problems. Social entrepreneurs are needed to develop new models for a new century."
The Skoll Centre also will host the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in March of 2004, to allow leading social entrepreneurs, opinion leaders and academics to collaborate on advancing the field of social entrepreneurship.