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Business and Impact Planning for Social Enterprises

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This course is currently archived on edX. Certificate enrollment is closed.

About This Course

People in every corner of the world are innovating to solve social and environmental problems in their communities. In the past decade, new programs like MIT Solve have emerged to support those social entrepreneurs and drive partnerships to accelerate their impact. However, many startups find it difficult to develop business plans that clearly communicate their work and impact — vital factors in securing funding and other growth opportunities.

This six-week course helps early-stage social impact startups define three key aspects of their business:

  • Impact Opportunity: What is the scale of the problem you are working on? How many people are impacted? and What impact might you make?
  • Customer Discovery: What specific group will your solution serve, and how will it impact their lives? How can you better understand this group?
  • Theory of Change: How can you be sure that your work addresses the problem you’re solving? How is your approach unique?
  • Strategy for Scale: How can you reach more people to scale your positive impact? Where will you gain the funding needed to expand?

Each week, you will dive into case studies from leading social entrepreneurs and both nonprofit and for-profit enterprises around the world. Building off these studies, we will help you think through your own social business model and impact plan. Upon completing this course, you will have thought about your responses to five core business model and impact questions. These answers can be used to scale your impact moving forward and to submit an application to MIT Solve’s open innovation platform.

You may be a good candidate for this course if any of the following criteria apply to you:

  • You are considering applying to one of Solve’s Challenges or to another social impact innovation program and are seeking advice to create and complete the application.
  • You are solving an important social or environmental problem and need help to describe and develop your work.
  • You are starting on an idea or solution to a social or environmental problem and need training or skills development to design and share your goals.

What is Solve?

Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting, transformational impact. Join Solve on this journey at


There are no formal prerequisites. A basic awareness of business concepts is useful, and a project that you are working on is beneficial if not required.

Course Staff

Course Staff Image #1

Anjali Sastry

Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

I’m applying to Solve’s Challenges - will taking this course give my submission an advantage?

Solve’s judges and reviewers will not consider whether an applicant participated in the course. However, we hope that the content and exercises will strengthen your application to our Global Challenges.

I’m not yet working on an idea/I’m just starting to work on my idea/I’m not sure I’d call myself an entrepreneur, am I allowed to take this course?

Yes - we welcome learners at all stages of experience.

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    209 weeks
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