Entrepreneurial Learning Circles
The Institute for Social Entrepreneurs currently offers an Entrepreneurial Learning Circle® that lasts for
11 months. If you are interested in sponsoring a learning circle, please call +01-214-866-0472, send an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write to the Institute at the following address: The Institute for Social Entrepreneurs, 6215 Sandydale Drive, Dallas, Texas 75248-3942
To help each of the participating nonprofits complete a specific entrepreneurial project in a concentrated period of time.
The learning circle consists of senior managers from four to six organizations
(the size of an organization is not a deciding factor in whether it is eligible
to participate). Members of the circle receive two half-day site visits from the
lead facilitator; participate in three additional 90-minute face-to-face
consultations with the lead facilitator; participate in 11 full-day peer group
sessions; serve as an ad hoc advisory committee for all the projects
being mounted by the learning circle participants; and receive remote consulting
from the lead facilitator and on-site consulting from the assistant facilitators
throughout the project.
The tasks chosen by the members of a circle are typically related in some way to
the creation of a social sector business: Designing and implementing feasibility
studies, developing business plans, acquiring financing, forging strategic
partnerships, and so on. However, the tasks might also include such things as
creating a strategic marketing plan (deciding which programs to expand, nurture,
harvest or kill); entrepreneurial strategic planning (simultaneously analyzing
the organization's programs from both a social impact and a financial
perspective); developing and implementing a marketing plan to generate earned
income (either for an entire organization or for a specific program); or any
number of others.
The facilitator for the learning circle is Jerr Boschee,.
the Founder and Executive Director of The Institute for Social
Entrepreneurs. He is responsible for visiting each site twice, for
conducting three additional face-to-face consultations with each organization;
for facilitating six peer group meetings; and for providing remote counseling to the circle participants by e-mail, FAX and telephone.
The half-day site visits take place during months one and eight; the
face-to-face consultations during months three, five and ten. The peer group
meeting during month 11 includes final reports, celebrations and planning for the future (one possible outcome might be a decision by the participants to continue meeting
independently, without a facilitator). All site visits and peer group meetings are scheduled for weekdays except for the final peer group session, which takes place on a Saturday to make it easier for Board members to attend.
At the conclusion of the project, Mr. Boschee and the assistant facilitators
work with the learning circle participants to prepare a final report for widespread dissemination. In this way, the
non-proprietary lessons learned by the participants in the project benefit other nonprofits as well as themselves.