Invitation to VU Social Entrepreneurship Initiative



The Global Room (VU main building, 1A36)

Invitation to VU Social Entrepreneurship Initiative


Faculty of Social Sciences

Social Sciences


Invitation to VU Social Entrepreneurship Initiative

Social and environmental problems, such as poverty, discrimination, lack of education, digital illiteracy, loss of biodiversity, pollution and climate change, are increasingly in need of urgent and determined attention. Social entrepreneurship is gaining traction in practice, policy and scholarship as a plausible mechanism for generating creative solutions to social and environmental ills. Social entrepreneurship is first and foremost defined by the aim to realize a social mission. Social entrepreneurship can take a variety of organizational forms, such as: a new venture, which offers new products or services to be financially self-sufficient; a temporary collaborative project linking diverse partners, both public and private; or initiatives within existing organizations. Thus, social enterprises come in all shapes and sizes and are active in almost all sectors. They make soup from rescued vegetables, assist people who are at a distance from the labor market, recycle old bicycle frames, or pay a living wage to coffee farmers in Africa and to seamstresses in Nepal. And they are in hospitality and facility management, in IT and in healthcare, in mobility and in sharing platforms. While making money is not a main goal, it is an efficient means to make the world better place. Accordingly, in whatever form it takes, social entrepreneurs strive to diffuse new solutions to social and environmental problems throughout society.

While universities have traditionally played a key role in producing knowledge about the complex causes and range of consequences of these multi-dimensional problems, we believe that universities are also uniquely positioned to further understand and support the ways of creating long-term solutions. The VU Social Entrepreneurship Initiative aims to connect, stimulate and organize a diverse group of stakeholders to understand and support long-term solutions, under the banner of ‘social entrepreneurship’.

As a first step towards this aim, we will come together as VU colleagues working on social entrepreneurship and related themes to share our research interests. Exploring our collective expertise within VU (across faculties) will allow us to identify how we can contribute to understanding and supporting social entrepreneurship. This first get-together is meant as a stepping stone for a second symposium of the VU Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, which will seek to explore the mutual interest and existing linkages among current VU academic staff and the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Amsterdam and The Netherlands. For this second symposium, apart from academic staff, invitations will be extended to social entrepreneurs, support organizations, etc.
During the first get-together, we will informally share our research interests and discuss how we can engage with other stakeholders in the field. We hope to bring together a diverse group of VU colleagues from different faculties or departments who are interested in social entrepreneurship and related themes. The get-together is an initiative of the Departments of Management and Organization (SBE) and Organization Sciences (FSS). If you plan to join, please send an email to Neil Thompson ( and Michiel Verver (