Laura Scher YC ’80
Chairperson & CEO
Ian H. Altman YC ’80
Altman & Cronin Consultants
A gift to support Social Entrepreneurship
Laura Scher: "When I started Working Assets, there was no blueprint for
launching a social enterprise. We had to devise our own. Now business
schools, especially SOM, teach nonprofit management and how to build
a social enterprise. This is crucial for today’s social entrepreneurs. When
we were looking for a way to have an impact on communities in need of
significant development, we saw SOM as an institution uniquely qualified
to implement an educational program for social entrepreneurs around the
globe while introducing the SOM community to the need for a global perspective
on social change."
Ian Altman: "We fund a project in south central Ethiopia that trains community health workers to teach basic health necessities. It’s a remarkably effective program. You can sponsor a project and achieve small changes, but if you educate and train people, you get systemic change out of the
same investment. This is how we see our donation to SOM working. The school partners some of its current MBA students and faculty with social entrepreneurs in developing countries. These entrepreneurs come to SOM, where they learn management skills and build support networks. The MBA students then travel to the entrepreneurs’ home countries to help implement the entrepreneurs’ particular projects."
Scher: "It’s all about leverage. While you only have 15 or so people coming
to Yale, they’re affecting the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people.
To us that’s a great appeal, and indicative of how global philanthropy
and education, with a small amount of money, can effect so much change.
Through the program, we’re building capacity within these countries
of highly trained leaders who have the right skills to run truly amazing organizations. There is leadership development on the ground in these countries today. But they can’t do it at the same level as Yale can."
Altman: "There’s also the real benefit to SOM students."
Scher: "That’s right. Whether they end up working at GM or Mercy Corps, the program gives students a set of experiences they would not get at another business school. Where else can you study leadership and then be tasked with putting it into action on the ground in India or China or Africa? It’s a unique program and we’re thrilled to be a part of it."