Against the backdrop of the 6th edition of ChangeNOW, INSEAD held a three-day reunion for over 80 graduates of the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship programme.
For the 5th consecutive year, INSEAD was the academic partner of ChangeNOW, the world’s largest event for the planet, sponsored by Cartier Women’s Initiative and Cartier. To mark this historic partnership year, INSEAD decided to engage with the summit a little differently. Leveraging the already global gathering of social entrepreneurs and leading practitioners at the summit, the Hoffmann Institute used the three-day event as a setting to bring together social entrepreneurs from the INSEAD graduate community. We hosted a structured learning expedition and reunion for over 80 global graduates from the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme (ISEP) along with students from the newly launched the Hans Wahl Impact Entrepreneurship programme (HWIEP).
The reunion offered three days of structured learning and discovery opportunities with INSEAD faculty, allowing for the exchange of ideas, networking, and, best of all, the chance to reconnect after several years of being apart. In addition, a selection of nine top entrepreneurial ventures were invited to present their businesses during the ChangeNOW summit. These enterprises were: Tierra de Monte, Natakallam, Saathi, CloQ, Bare Necessities, Sehat Kahani, hiveonline, Green Bamboo Cambodia and Social Founder.
The reunion kicked off with an evening event in Paris following the launch of the new Hans Wahl Programme. Graduates of ISEP and participants of HWIEP had time to connect with one another during facilitated group activities. These served as the foundation for their learning journeys in the days ahead.
The first day of ChangeNOW marked the beginning of the structured learning on key themes related to impact entrepreneurship. The day began with a learning expedition on site, featuring panellists Florian Erber, Ljupka Mitrinovska and Augustin Boulot. Moderated by INSEAD MBA’23J student Yann Gourio, the panel provided practical advice to the impact entrepreneurs. One of the key takeaways from the session came from Florian, Managing Partner & Founder at Ananda Impact Ventures. He urged social entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo and ask themselves if they really need to seek funding. Based on his experience on the VC side, he noted that capital efficiency was key and sometimes taking more funding than needed can present complications further down the line. The learning expedition closed with Kevin Tayebaly, ChangeNOW co-founder and INSEAD alumnus, speaking about the partnership between INSEAD and ChangeNOW and offering insight into the future social entrepreneur ecosystem:
“All businesses should be social…We should not have to rely only on social entrepreneurs to drive change. The DNA of the summit is social entrepreneurs trying to solve people and problems.” – Kevin Tayebaly
For the rest of the day, our participants were given free time to attend sessions and network at ChangeNOW. Two of the sessions on offer were: “Nature-Based Solutions: Regenerating Ecosystems” moderated by Katell Le Goulven (watch here), and “Reducing Carbon Emissions” moderated by Deputy Dean Peter Zemsky (watch here).
The third and final day consisted of a half-day facilitated workshop on “Impact Entrepreneurship” with INSEAD faculty. After an informal lunch at ChangeNOW, the participants made their way to the workshop, which took place inside the iconic Eiffel Tower. Participants collaborated in groups that had been formed on the first evening, organised around the challenges their social enterprises face. Each group was assigned activities based on relevant topics, such as Circular Economy, Access to Finance, Climate Change or Inclusion. Participants reflected on how to maintain continuous engagement within the community and a ”guardian group” was formed to design a community engagement strategy with the support of the Hoffmann Institute.
Following the group activities, INSEAD Professor Jasjit Singh gave a keynote presentation on “Why Impact Entrepreneurs matter in a world of ESG.” He pointed out that while mainstream companies take ESG stakes seriously, their primary focus is still their bottom line. This is precisely why impact entrepreneurs do still matter. He noted the key difference between impact entrepreneurs and mainstream business: their ability to look at the broader landscape and create durable impact. He also reminded the audience that scaling wide doesn’t necessarily translate to impact, and genuine impact is achieved by scaling deep. As for his advice to the social entrepreneurs present, it was clear: if you want to stay relevant and impactful, measurement is essential. Although measuring impact can be difficult, it is important to start somewhere and formulate a metric. It doesn’t need to be perfect; the key is just to start!
At the conclusion of the reunion, the graduates said their goodbyes, and the first cohort of students on the Hans Wahl Impact Entrepreneurship programme headed to our Europe Campus in Fontainebleau to begin their academic course. The reunion encouraged the transfer of knowledge and experiences, supported social entrepreneurs in growing their impact, presented diverse solutions to the ChangeNOW audience and, most importantly, forged a stronger social entrepreneurship ecosystem. Overall, the exchange of ideas, experiences and the forging of new connections proved to be a success - one that we hope to further develop in the future.
To further explore the topic of Impact Entrepreneurship, listen to our 6-part podcast series on the topic which includes faculty and alumni guest speakers: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/mission-to-change/episodes/Founding-Social-Entrepreneurship-with-Bill-Drayton-e1tha30/a-a96b2sv
To find out more about this year’s partnership with ChangeNOW, read the press release: https://www.insead.edu/newsroom/2023-insead-partners-cartier-for-changenow-2023-business-society-challenges