Social Entrepreneurship
Our newest initiative aims to develop leaders who build innovative and sustainable social enterprises that deliver impact at scale.
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Interested in Social Entrepreneurship? Check out our exciting opportunities for #entrePENNeurs!
Learn about social entrepreneurship from industry leaders.
Book time with our staff
Get up to $5,000 in free money for your startup.
Penn's largest student-focused venture incubator
Connect with other socially-minded entrepreneurs

Social Enterprise Spotlight

Learn more about our alumni leading the change in social entrepreneurship.
Novoloop
Miranda Wang, C'16
Cofounder & CEO
GenHERation
Katlyn Grasso, W'15
Founder and CEO
Full Harvest
Christine Moseley, WG'11
Founder & CEO

FAQ

What is social entrepreneurship? What is a social entrepreneur and a social enterprise?
Social entrepreneurship is the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues.

A social entrepreneur, therefore, is a person who explores business opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, in society or the world. They draw upon the best thinking in both the business and nonprofit worlds to develop strategies that maximize their social impact.

A social enterprise is an organization that delivers social impact at scale, has a feasible business model for execution, and is financially sustainable, regardless of incorporation status. Social enterprises can be nonprofit (501c3), B-corps, or for profit organizations, but they do not primarily depend on external donations to operate.
What does the Venture Lab social entrepreneurship program offer to Penn students?
Our social entrepreneurship program offers a unique hands-on learning experience that complements and unites existing programs at Venture Lab and across the University. It is comprised of the following:

  • Start Here Monday sessions for students to discuss 1:1 with our staff about their socially-minded interests and to better determine which programs, activities, and workshops are right for them
  • Speaker series to provide students with examples of successful social entrepreneurs and pathways
  • Internship placement and award for Penn students to work at a social enterprise over the summer
  • Penn Wharton Innovation Fund (PWIF) awards for Penn students building social enterprises
  • VIP-X accelerator for Penn student founders who are looking to scale their social enterprises
Who can participate in social entrepreneurship programs?
Our social entrepreneurship programming is available to the Penn community. Financial award opportunities are open to all students who are enrolled full time in a University of Pennsylvania academic program.
What will Social Entrepreneurship offer for the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund (PWIF)?
Startups can apply for up to $5,000 award in our Penn Wharton Innovation Fund program.
What will Social Entrepreneurship offer for the VIP-X cohorts?
Social Entrepreneurship offers up to $5,000 for startups that meet the social enterprise criteria and are accepted into our VIP-X cohort.
How do I get in touch with your program team?
For additional information on our offering, please contact Julia Middleton, our senior associate director of social entrepreneurship, at juliamid@wharton.upenn.edu.

Warby Parker: Buy a Pair, Give a Pair

Founders: Neil Blumenthal, WG'10; Dave Gilboa, WG'10; Jeff Raider, WG'10; Andrew Hunt, WG'10

2.5 billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have access to them; of these, 624 million cannot effectively learn or work due to the severity of their visual impairment.

Since day one, over 10 million pairs of glasses have been distributed through Warby Parker's Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program, reaching 50 countries around the world.

Learn more about our alumni founders and their initiative here.
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This program delivers experiential learning that complements Wharton's existing social impact curriculum, providing hands-on opportunities for budding social entrepreneurs to build new ventures that change the world.
Lori Rosenkopf, Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship
We need social entrepreneurs to help us find new avenues toward social improvement as we enter the next century.
J. Gregory Dees, Founder of Duke's Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE)
Our new social entrepreneurship program puts Wharton and Penn’s institutional power into educating the next generation of leaders to solve the world’s most pressing social problems.
Trang Pham, Executive Director, Venture Lab
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