So how do you start a social enterprise?

After we left Cambodia, something had inherently changed within us. Our perspective was different and we understood that business could and should be used as a force of good. However, as MBA students we had to find a sustainable model.

What did we want to do? What market did we want to be in? What exactly are we providing? A product or a service? What will be our mission and our vision?

The idea was both invigorating and daunting at the same time. Assist nonprofits in developing countries through consulting on business operations using graduate students. The feedback we received were that nonprofits needed assistance in developing basic business principles and perhaps even advanced business techniques. What they needed were business consultants. To help nonprofits take their passion to sustainability.

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So how could we help? We looked for other trips to join, but after searching all around, we couldn’t really find anything that met the specific need we uncovered. Some MBA programs provided global study tours, and some provided consulting projects, but few melded the two. The programs that did provide an experience are offered once a year and sometimes for a long duration. Furthermore, we uncovered there are two best things an MBA student can accomplish to be more competitive within the job market: international experience and consulting experience.

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So why not make a positive change and apply scholastic theory to a real world challenge? We became passionate about the timing of a trip, its frequency or duration not being a barrier towards affecting positive change.

ICON became an evolution of ideas, and collaboration through a lot of joyful argument.  Chip would probably argue that I enjoyed playing the devil’s advocate too often during the process. The energy, insight and help we received from day one to today has been as incredible and humbling as our experience in Cambodia.

In the end, we got there, but only because ICON became something bigger than either of us. Where we envision ICON developing is to create the largest network of students and nonprofits across the world to solve global challenges through business. We want to increase the social impact of nonprofits abroad and give business students hands on professional consulting experience and leadership skills.

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So now, how are we getting there?