Bound by strong humanist values, Live for Good, a not-for-profit association committed to youth and an expert in positive impact entrepreneurship, and CEDEP, the Executive Education Club share a common vision of business – that of a more positive, more responsible and more virtuous company for society and the environment.
Since 2018, these two organisations have partnered to develop a programme that provides a unique safe space and development structure for young social entrepreneurs coming from all walks of life. They can explore, develop, implement and succeed in the translation of their initial idea into a sustainable and successful social business venture.
Examples of successful projects are Clarisse (FabBRICK), who designs building material made from recycled clothing; Mathieu (GobUse), who organises selective sorting and collection of masks by disabled people prior to recycling; and Stéphane (BioDemain), who developed an ethical brand that supports and fairly remunerates farmers during the difficult period of organic conversion.
Live for Good brought its knowledge of the start-up world, a new network of entrepreneurs, and their positive vision of how business could be conducted for the benefit of society. CEDEP, known for its agility in co-designing programmes for highly demanding organisations, brought its academic credibility, learner-centred pedagogical design experience and magnificent physical campus in the forest of Fontainebleau, France.
In just three years, their co-designed programme accompanied nearly 160 young social entrepreneurs, from an idea to the realisation of their venture, with fast and impressive impact:
- 85% have filed their articles of association, i.e. over 100 social enterprises created since 2018.
- The business survival rate is 77% up to 3 years after their passage through the programme (i.e. 12 points higher than the national average).
- According to an independent impact measurement firm (Citizen), the Entrepreneur for Good programme generates €5.1 in economic gains (or “Social Return on Investment”) for every €1 invested.
- 1/3 of the beneficiaries are either from rural/urban priority areas, have few or no qualifications, or are disabled.
- No one is left behind: 90% of the beneficiaries who stopped their project have found a job in a related field.
- In addition, multiple bridges were built with all stakeholders involved: faculty, learning partners, and corporates.
What is the reason for this success?
Ecosystem engagement, a comprehensive programme, and community building are key elements to the success, but not the only ones. The partners apply a whole new mindset that reduces barriers to entry during the learning process and provides the conditions to learn from collective intelligence and at an individual level.
Engaging the ecosystem
Live for Good animates a wide range of stakeholders. It has developed an impressive number of local public and private partners to identify and source entrepreneurs, manages a network of coaches and the community.
CEDEP, its board, corporate members and learning partners spontaneously accepted to partner as their contribution to help transform society, thereby reinforcing CEDEP’s strategic move to act for the greater good. The contribution took the form of faculty donating sessions, reducing costs of hosting the programme, allowing the design of sessions for corporates and entrepreneurs in programmes, being willing to test and progress on pedagogy, etc.
Designing a comprehensive learning journey
The “Entrepreneur for Good” programme, the backbone of which is the 11-day residential campus programme at CEDEP, individual follow-up with coaches, a digital platform, and the Gabriel Award offer a very comprehensive journey of transformation over nine months and even beyond. It allows for collective and individual long-term follow-up.
To have a lasting impact, Live for Good realised early in the process that it needed an infrastructure capable of supporting dozens of entrepreneurs, thereby creating a community of mutual support.
The residential campus, composed of three periods of three to four days, is undoubtedly one of the most powerful moments for the young people, both in terms of learning and psychology. Immersed in the campus for three weeks alongside 49 other young people, they live a unique human experience that amplifies their transformation journey and their project’s success.
They strengthen their self-confidence, create a real sense of belonging to a group and strongly encourage their commitment throughout the programme. Peer-to-peer learning, friendships, collaboration on projects, development of synergies become real assets on which each entrepreneur can draw.
Community building is then sustained by a number of activities led by the Live for Good team.
A new mindset
Reducing entry barriers was key. The model itself of CEDEP played a role, not being a business school or university. Many young people do not recognise themselves in traditional models, which are often too remote from reality, with no immediate application of the knowledge acquired. Supporting people with few or no qualifications, for example, requires banishing all forms of top-down teaching and not focusing exclusively on the technical know-how of business creation (e.g. finance, legal workshops, etc.). Accompanying these groups requires reinventing oneself, innovating on the pedagogical level by focusing, for example, on “soft skills” (creativity, cooperation, emotional intelligence, self-confidence and self-care etc.). They need a pedagogical model that breaks with abstraction, which is anchored in the reality of the field, inclusive, that allows the immediate application of learning on projects, where one is an actor in one’s own learning.
The learning journey on campus
The programme is based on an innovative pedagogical approach with two axes:
- Developing the entrepreneurial posture and positive leadership capability of young people by providing them with a foundation of life skills.
- Supporting the creation and acceleration of their positive-impact entrepreneurship project by providing them with a foundation of know-how and all the necessary resources.
The programme starts by creating the conditions. The human side of the campus with the care of every actor in the system, from the receptionist to the faculty, acts as a trust builder.
The learner is then put at the centre:
Peer learning happens thanks to methods developed at CEDEP like project insight fairs and workshops based on neuroscientific advances applied to the field of knowledge acquisition that allows participants to learn through questions, the eyes of others, intensive listening, and openness to others, with a presentation exercise repeated and applied to their individual project. This allows entrepreneurs to understand their project in-depth, rethink or reposition it, sometimes even pivot entirely and acquire a method of reflection that will be useful for any future project.
Using real-world projects, the social entrepreneurial venture becomes part of the pedagogical material of the programme. This facilitates tackling one complexity, which is to be able to support a diverse target audience with projects at different stages of development.
Another originality of the curriculum is the way the learning materialises by flipping classroom dynamics in two stages: first, the teacher starts, and as soon as possible “flips” the classroom, so that the participants feel at the centre of their own learning; then, they do the same to themselves – becoming the teachers of each other through collective intelligence mechanisms.
The role of the programme director is central: present at all sessions, she takes into account the emotional maturity of the entrepreneurs to push ideas or wait and recalibrates the internal elements of each learning module as appropriate.
Learning benefits for the ecosystem
Both partners are learning along the way, and the programme is constantly evolving. Making sense and accompanying the entrepreneurs is what matters.
Faculty learn to work with the younger generation, who give more direct feedback and are thus more challenging. Their concentration time is shorter which forces a reinvention in creating deep learning. They also bring a strong moral dimension into business and a lot of positive energy!
Corporate Members get to know these young talents and their aspirations. They can potentially partner on social innovations. Some members are in discussions to host campuses of young social entrepreneurs within their organisation.
CEDEP is taking a longer-term view through this social and environmental dimension and has integrated a new type of stakeholder that greatly enriches its ecosystem.
Live for Good is becoming a successful and renowned platform for social entrepreneurs to launch their ventures.
The young entrepreneurs have access to content, support and build a lifelong community.
All benefit from the highly positive energy!
For more information, visit
“Strategic Challenges as a Learning Vehicle in Executive Education”, by de Vries et al, International Journal of Management Education 18 (2020)
See more articles from Vol.15 Issue 03 – EiP’21.
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