News & Highlights

  • NOVEMBER 2023

Social Enterprise: Upswell Forum

This November, the Social Enterprise Initiative welcomed the pilot Upswell Forum cohort to campus for an extraordinary four days of learning and community building. Conceived in partnership with the Harvard Business School African-American Alumni Association and the Social Enterprise Initiative, the mission of Upswell is to accelerate the impact of social entrepreneurs working in communities of color. The forum welcomed organizations serving the Boston, Atlanta and Houston metro regions. Faculty and guest speakers led energizing sessions on leadership, strategy, systems thinking, and power and influence, among others. The group will continue to work together through virtual sessions and mentorship with HBS alumni in the coming months.
  • NOVEMBER 2023

How Framebridge Founder Susan Tynan (MBA 2003) Managed Risk While Making an Impact

On the Deep Purpose podcast with Professor Ranjay Gulati, Susan Tynan (MBA 2003) reflects on the hard work and hard decisions of her entrepreneurial journey. Great business leaders are problem solvers. That’s what sparked Tynan to found Framebridge, a custom framing company. When Tynan couldn’t find a reasonably priced place to frame her beloved posters, she launched a business, which took off after years of hard work – and hard decisions. Tynan reflects on her learning journey, discussing how she managed the risks of entrepreneurship while aiming to make a lasting impact. A case study on Tynan’s journey is also available here.
  • OCTOBER 2023

Doing Business in a Divided World: Continuing the Conversation

This October 30 leaders of U.S-based public and private companies and non-profits gathered with five HBS faculty in Detroit for a frank talk about their role in addressing societal issues. Professor Debora Spar, HBS Senior Associate Dean for Business in Global Society, opened the Roundtable with a clear message: “Society is expecting business to be more involved. We are past the hand-waving stage, and you are seeking to move to substantive actions. If we want business to play a more active role tackling societal challenges, how do we do that?” Key takeaways from the discussion included understanding that 1) U.S. employees trust their own employers more than any other U.S. institution, 2) employees want to engage on these issues, and 3) leaders and employees need to better align on societal issues.
  • AUGUST 2023

Public School Innovation in Georgia: SE Summer Fellow Niki Patel (MBA 2024)

In the latest installment of the summer fellows blog series, the Social Enterprise Initiative spoke to Niki Patel (MBA 2024), who is working at one of the largest school districts in Georgia, building strategies for implementation at scale. Patel discusses her project on better preparing students for an AI-enabled world, why she chose this internship, her goals, and more.

New Research on the Region

  • January 2024
  • Case

Deion Sanders: The Prime Effect

By: Hise O. Gibson, Nicole Gilmore and Alicia Dadlani

In 2023, Deion Sanders, known as “Coach Prime,” became head football coach of the University of Colorado Boulder (CU). Sanders was tasked with leading CU’s struggling football program, which had only achieved one winning season in the last 15 years, back to glory. Many were excited by the idea of having the two-time Super Bowl champion and Hall of Fame inductee as CU’s new head coach, but several questioned whether he had the experience and leadership needed to turn around a team in a highly competitive conference, as he only had two years of college coaching experience. In addition, some wondered whether his “old school” leadership style, which required a high level of discipline and personal accountability, would be effective on today’s student-athletes, while others questioned whether his approach was sustainable.

  • January 2024 (Revised March 2024)
  • Case

Uncle Nearest: Creating a Legacy

By: Hise Gibson, Archie L. Jones, Nicole Gilmore and Ai-Ling Jamila Malone

Fawn Weaver, as a Black woman and industry outsider in a capital-intensive, highly regulated, competitive and male-dominated spirits industry, successfully overcame numerous obstacles to launch a premium American whiskey brand, Uncle Nearest in 2017, which became the fastest growing and most awarded whiskey brand in America. By October 2023, Weaver announced the company’s plans to expand into cognac to support her vision of building the next major conglomerate for alcoholic beverages. However, she still heavily relied on capital and needed to convince new investors that her plans for cognac would yield success.

  • November 2023
  • Case

Nourishing Communities: Brighter Bites Approach to Childhood Nutrition

By: David E. Bell, Forest Reinhardt and Ai-Ling Jamila Malone

In September 2023, Brighter Bites, a Houston-based non-profit that distributed fresh produce and nutrition education in underserved communities across 11 cities and 5 states, grappled with identifying the best path forward for continued growth. Brighter Bites proved that their program effectively changed behavior with participating families developing and sustaining healthier eating habits and consuming more fruits and vegetables each week, two years after they completed the program. Brighter Bites wanted to change the trajectory of health across low-income and food insecure households and had to navigate the program's dependency on produce and logistics partners and restricted funding sources.

See more research

Mid-US Staff

Alicia Dadlani
Director (Columbus, OH)
Martha Hostetter
Senior Researcher (Cleveland, OH)
Ai-Ling Jamila Malone
Senior Researcher (Atlanta, GA)