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Purpose-driven Business Model Design

Developed by NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, the ‘Purpose-Driven Approach to Business Model Design’ adapts Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s Business Model Canvas to focus on social impact as the primary goal of business model design. This approach also highlights different financing models, and how an appropriate stakeholder model that generates a “shared-purpose” between the social entrepreneur and other stakeholders can both achieve social impacts and meet financing requirements.

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1. Social Innovation

  • Plus Acumen – Cultivate your moral imagination, operational and financial skills with Acumen’s courses. *Note: Check the dates to ensure that the courses are readily available.
  • Coursera – Develop, test, and deploy high-impact solutions to society’s toughest challenges with these online courses from top universities. *Note: Check the dates to ensure that the courses are readily available.

2. Business Toolbox

3. Design your Solution

  • Design Kit – A step-by-step guide to human-centered design, with accompanying case studies.
  • Open IDEO – Up-to-date ideas and trends to inspire your social innovation endeavours. *Hint: type your country’s name in the search bar for solutions from your community.

All: NovoEd – Courses on entrepreneurship, innovation, design, business, and management with thought leaders in these fields.



1. Stanford Social Innovation Review

Stanford Social Innovation Review – Top trends, best practices and new ideas in the global social enterprise field.

2. British Council Social Enterprise Reports

British Council Social Enterprise Reports –In-depth perspectives on social enterprise in key regions and markets.

3. Next Billion

Next Billion – a community of business leaders, social entrepreneurs, NGOs, policy makers and academics who want to explore the connection between development and enterprise.

4. Social Story (India)

Social Story (India) – the social enterprise side of YourStory, a no. 1 media platform based in India.

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1. TED talks – part 1 and part 2

Fourteen TED Talks to inspire social entrepreneurship, curated by Social.Yourstory.Com.

2. Skoll World Forum

Skoll World Forum – Sit at the feet of top thought leaders through the Skoll World Forum’s video archives as they accelerate entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues.


1. Special: For social entrepreneurs who work in Global Health

Social Entrepreneurship: Improving Global Health – co-authored by DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia steering committee member Dr. Audrey Chia and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), this paper documents social entrepreneurs’ efforts to deliver cost-effective health care and social services to poor, underserved communities through self-sustaining business models.

2. For Students:

Ashoka U’s A Student’s Guide to Social Enterprise – *by students, for students!

3. For those who want to Measure their Footprint:

4. For Hungry Readers:

D School Reading List – Stanford Design School’s reading list on innovation, human-centered design, and collaboration.

Purpose-Driven Approach to Business Model Design

The ‘Purpose-Driven Approach to Business Model Design’, developed by NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, puts the achievement of social impact as the primary design goal, and adapts the Business Model Canvas (by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur) to more effectively explore how different business models can be developed to achieve those impacts.

This design approach also highlights how the financial requirements of a business model can be met with different financing models, and shows how the tensions between achieving social impacts and meeting financing requirements can be resolved through the design of an appropriate stakeholder model that generates a “shared-purpose” between the social entrepreneur and other stakeholders.