The University of Notre Dame’s Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child (GC-DWC) has launched its newest initiative aimed at fostering locally-led, sustainable development projects. The GC-DWC’s Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) integrates market forces, sound business principles, and science-based innovations to translate knowledge into opportunities and sustainable excellence for children, families, and communities.
Fundamentally, social enterprises leverage entrepreneurship to address complex social issues and ultimately foster sustainable solutions, create capacity, and empower people at local levels. A social enterprise lens, through which market forces and business principles coalesce to sustain education, child welfare, and community development initiatives, is especially necessary to employ in contexts where government investments in human capital and social development are woefully insufficient. Initially, the GC-DWC’s SEI team, with its diversity of business, entrepreneurial, academic, and practitioner-focused backgrounds, will focus its efforts in Haiti with the ultimate goal of contextualizing and replicating similar approaches in other low- and middle-income countries.
“For so long, development projects have been tied to grant cycles, with progress left to atrophy once funding runs out,” said Dr. Neil Boothby, founding director of the GC-DWC. “A social enterprise approach to development acknowledges that low-income communities and countries face complex challenges that cannot be overcome in a single grant-cycle. Our social enterprise initiative will apply business principles in the communities in which we work to achieve social objectives all the while empowering locally-led development efforts.”
Building on a series of long-standing relationships, partnerships, and programming in Haiti, the SEI team will embed its social enterprise philosophy through multiple avenues and mechanisms.
- The Haiti Salt Project: a social enterprise, owned and operated by the Congregation Sainte Croix – Haiti and backed by science, that uses business principles for the public good, in particular, the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) and the prevention of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD).
- Mail Boxes Etc.- Haiti: a global franchise established as a locally-run company that will feed profits back into local schools, and cultivate local business by providing business services and low-cost, reliable package delivery.
- The University of Notre Dame Haiti-Hinche: a Haitian-led university that offers robust tracks in bioscience, entrepreneurship, and technical and vocational education and training.
- The Kwasans Foundation: a non profit, philanthropic organization committed to supporting Haitian institutions. Kwasans provides technical and financial support for the establishment of Mail Boxes Etc. and the buildout of University of Notre Dame Haiti-Hinche’s capacity.
You can learn more about each of these initiatives on the GC-DWC SEI website.