How to get your business minor in Social Entrepreneurship–for free!

BUSINESS!!!!!1 YeAH!!!!!!!

BUSINESS!!!!!1 YeAH!!!!!!!

Tired of feeling like I didn’t have the academic “credentials” to be part of what the Business People or the Finance People did, and disappointed by the apparent gaps on my resume betraying the professional I knew I could be, I decided it was time to do something about it.

The first step was quitting my comfy university job to take an unpaid business development fellowship with a startup social enterprise in Colombia. I’ve now been in Bogotá for about four months and as part of a small team of two co-founders, I’m getting more exciting experience in supply chain development, market research, strategic fundraising, and impact investing than I could have even imagined–and have discovered a newfound fascination with marketing in the Bottom of the Pyramid segment.

guasca jeep

But although I’ll be the first to tell you that experience speaks much more than words on a page, I still felt like something was missing. I jumped into my position at SokoText, immediately surrounded by exactly the environment I had wanted–a small startup with a small team, in which I’d have the chance to wear many hats–and suddenly felt like I didn’t know nearly enough about almost any of these hats.

I know who I am. I am a big-picture person: a problem-solver, a critical analyzer, a communicator, and a strategist. I want to know about all the pieces, how they work and how to make them better. Yet here was an incredibly exciting real-life example of a social enterprise, with limitless opportunities for developing answers and building solutions, and I was suddenly painfully aware of the holes in my knowledge. I craved to have the tools to solve these fascinating challenges.

That’s when I developed one of my secondary goals for this experience: I was going to piece together the business minor I never had, and start finding some answers.

The only question was…how?

Luckily, it’s 2015, and there’s an Internet thing for that!

They’re called MOOCs, and they’re my favorite thing of this entire year.

MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses, and they’ve gained popularity and traction over the last few years with major sites like Coursera, edX, and more offering thousands of courses in everything you could imagine, from software, coding, and graphic design to business courses and random liberal arts courses you never got to take in college. And many of the courses are created and taught by professors at universities like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and many more.

Did I mention they’re free*?

(*Don’t be scared because “free” came with an asterisk. I know no one likes to see that, but in this case never fear–the classes really are free! There is usually a paid option (around $35-100 per class) to receive a “Verified Certificate”, but general consensus seems to be that if you can give yourself the motivation to finish the class without having paid for it, it doesn’t make much difference to potential employers or others whether you received a Certificate or not.)

In the classes I’ve been taking, I’ve tried to find a balance between curriculum related to social entrepreneurship, and material from the traditional business sector. While I’ve gotten through several classes so far, I’ve got plenty more on my list! I’ve spent a great deal of time compiling my dream list of fascinating MOOCs that will be very useful for me, and I’ve shared them below.

The courses range from 2.5 hours to 8 weeks or more, though on average most of them are around 4 weeks. I’ve been aiming to complete at least one a month, since realistically the only time I reliably have to dedicate to studying consists of a few hours on the weekends. But there are courses to fit every schedule, so don’t let that be your excuse 🙂

[If you’re interested in these topics exclusively as they relate to social enterprise, check out +Acumen’s full list of fantastic free online courses.]

Finance and Accounting

Marketing

Operations and Management

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Graphic Design and Software

Impact and Scale

Are there any other courses you’ve taken that you would recommend? What’s been your favorite MOOC that you’ve taken?

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2 thoughts on “How to get your business minor in Social Entrepreneurship–for free!

  1. Yes. I am a huge proponent of these types of classes. I have taken Nutrition and Econ through coursera and they have been invaluable. I recommend taking them with a friend to hold each other accountable. Maybe take yourself out for a nice meal once you have completed it as well!

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    • Thanks for sharing, Caro! So glad to hear you’ve been having a good experience with MOOCs as well–and taking it with someone to hold you accountable is a great idea! That can be the only downside of taking a free class…a bit harder to stick to it when you haven’t invested any money into it!

      Hmm…I think I just found an excuse to try a new restaurant soon 😛

      Like

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