Michigan Celebrates a New Center for Social Impact

By Amanda Lewan on May 4th, 2015 / Comments

At the University of Michigan entrepreneurship is often supported through special classes, programs, and even student run venture funds.

Now the newly launched Center for Social Impact from the Ross Business School can be added to their growing list of entrepreneurial activity. The center celebrated their launch year last month with local supporters, students and staff.

Why have a focus on social impact? The center sees “social impact” as something both attractive to employers and entrepreneurs.

“We have a little bit of everything including building new social ventures, deep diving in new ventures in Detroit through consulting,” said the Center’s Managing Director Rishi Moudgil. “We get students together to deliver social impact and social innovation.”

This year the Center has both grown existing programs and launched new initiatives that include the launch of a $15,000 social impact track of the campus-wide Michigan Business Challenge business plan competition for the social entrepreneur, and offering MBA students up to $10,000 each to pursue impact investing summer internships.

How does one define social innovation? Moudgil define it as “someone who is pursuing a novel concept or strategy that meets a social need or solves a social problem.”  He believes that for us as a society to solve problems we need to think of new ways to bring together people with different perspectives. That’s where innovation takes off.

Moudgil also says that students today don’t just want a job, they want to create an impact in their community. They are working to provide students with the skills needed to solve problems.

“Using social innovation as a lense helps you think creatively, bring people together, and solve problems,” he said.

The Center or Social Impact also hosts an annual impact project in Detroit, partnering with the city and other local organizations to help make a difference in Detroit. Their latest project was to help redesign Detroit’s packard plant.

Moudgil also shared with us some of the big questions they are asking themselves as they help cultivate a larger culture of social innovation:

“How do you attract capital investments into new business with a social and financial return? How do you support both entrepreneurs and systems change agents? What are the skills and experiences you need to do those types of things?” he said. “There’s a lot of opportunities for folks to roll up their sleeves and get involved right now.”

Learn more about the Center for Social Impact at the University of Michigan, and keep us posted with any special entrepreneurial activity you see happening on your college campus.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.