What is Participatory Assessment?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: B Rosen

In order to change the world and make a difference, you need to understand the current situation.

Understanding Problems to Find Solutions

I’m a firm believer that you should focus 20% of your time and energy analyzing the problems. Then after that, you should spend 80% of your time and energy focusing on the solutions.

A precondition to finding a solution is to first understand the problem.

That’s where conducting a situation analysis is valuable. A situation analysis can comprise a number of tools and techniques to comprehend the current problems. One kind of tool within a situation analysis is the participatory assessment.

4 Factors of a Participatory Assessment

Participatory assessment is a means of building partnerships with people from certain communities of all ages and backgrounds. The partnership is fostered through structured discussions and dialogue.

Participatory assessments may include holding separate discussions with women, girls, boys and men, in order to:

  1. gather accurate information on the specific problems that they face,
  2. get information about the underlying causes of those problems,
  3. understand the capacities of various persons within the community,
  4. hear their proposed solutions to their problems.

A Major Benefit of Participatory Assessment

In my point of view, one of the most beneficial aspects of participatory assessments is the fact that it helps mobilize communities to take collective action to improve their own quality of life. Participatory assessments also form the basis for the implementation of a rights and community-based approach.

My Experience with Participatory Assessment

Over the past few days, I’ve actually been involved as a facilitator in a week long participatory assessment with Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh. I must admit that it is quite thorough, and we’re having to discuss with community leaders as well as various segments of the community such as the women, men, adolescents and children.

Final Note on Participatory Assessments

I will admit that running a participatory assessment is not easy. It is certainly challenging. Nevertheless, I agree that it is highly important because as a social entrepreneur, you don’t want to dictate solutions to communities.

Rather, you will want to discuss with communities in order to find a sustainable and feasible solution.

Inspirational Quote: “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World”

paise par mahatma
Creative Commons License photo credit: { pranav }

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi said this over 50 years ago, but I think that it still rings true today for social entrepreneurs.

Inspirational Quotes from Inspirational Role Models

Through your social entrepreneurship journey, you will often want to find role models to inspire you to become more and do more.

I would suggest that Mahatma Gandhi of India is a great role model to look up to, and he has certainly been an inspiration for my own growth and development.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Quote Inspired Me

Throughout my university years, I actually posted up a poster of Mahatma Gandhi on my bedroom wall, and this particular quote was written at the bottom of the poster. I was in awe at the accomplishments that he was able to pioneer.

I especially advocate for his idea of non-violence which then inspired many other great world leaders including Martin Luther King Jr of the USA, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and Benigno Aquino of the Philippines along with many others.

Why This Quote is Important for You

I think the importance of the inspirational quote is this: There’s no point in complaining about the various aspects of the world that you can’t control.

One of the major things that you can control is yourself. If you want good to be more present in the world, start with yourself and be good. If you want more peace, then act with forgiveness and peace. Be an example of what you want the world to be like.

Practice What You Preach

I admire that Gandhi didn’t just preach without action. He practiced many of his teachings alright, including peaceful resistance. He showed us that you didn’t have to put up with the wrongs in the world. You could stand up for what you believed in, but you could do it in a peaceful and principled way. Gandhi’s ideas helped India gain independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

The Impact of This Gandhi’s Quote on Social Entrepreneurs Today

Gandhi has even inspired several social entrepreneurs today. Blake Mycoskie, who is the founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, says that this Mahatma Ghandi quote is his favorite. He even sells shoes that display those words.

10 More Social Entrepreneurship Courses to Help You Change the World

When I talked about social entrepreneurship courses yesterday, I didn’t expect that it would get so popular.

Growing Interest in Social Entrepreneurship Courses

But wow! I was amazed at the enthusiasm from the online community, especially from the folks on Twitter who re-tweeted the post several times throughout the past 24 hours.
Personally, I think that the online interest in social entrepreneurship courses demonstrates the growing offline interest in the subject too.

More students and working professionals are keen to develop their understanding of social enterprise – and many academies and colleges are beginning to take note. I think it’s a positive step to advance the field and to spread the message worldwide.

10 More Social Entrepreneurship Courses to Help You Do GOOD:

With your enthusiasm, I figured that I should present 10 more social entrepreneurship courses that can help you improve your self development in the field.

1.Social Entrepreneurship Courses at Cornell University

Description: Social entrepreneurship courses abound at Cornell, and you can take them as part of a degree at the university. Some of the social entrepreneurship courses there include:

  • Social entrepreneurs, innovators and problem solvers
  • Non-profit finance and Management
  • Sustainability as a Driver for Innovation in the Entrepreneurial Organization

Location: Ithaca, New York, USA

Website: Entrepreneurship @ Cornell

2. Social Entrepreneurship Course Series @ Stanford University

Description: With Stanford University, there are a variety of social entrepreneurship courses that are under the Public Policy Program and Program on Urban Studies. Some of the social entrepreneurship studies that you can take include:

  • Social Innovation and the Social Entrepreneur: Creating and Developing U.S. and International Social Sector Initiatives
  • Business Concepts and Skills for the Social Sector
  • Social Entrepreneurship:Mobilizing Private Resources for the Common Good

Location: California, USA

Website: Social Entrepreneurship Course Series @ Stanford University

3. Harvard MBA Courses in Social Enterprise

Description: Harvard Business School integrates social enterprise cases in courses throughout the MBA curriculum, offers a number of courses dedicated to social enterprise, and provides field-based learning opportunities within social enterprise. Some of the social entrepreneurship MBA course electives at HBS include:

  • Building Green Businesses
  • Business at the Base of the Pyramid
  • Commerce and Society: The Strategic Value of Corporate Social Responsibility

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Website: Social Enterprise Initiative at Harvard Business School

4. Online Course in Social Entrepreneurship

Description: The course in social entrepreneurship is part of the Certificate Series of the Learning Institute for Nonprofit Organizations. The course is delivered online and it enables you:

  1. To understand why nonprofits are adopting entrepreneurial strategies
  2. To learn the critical success factors identified by pioneers in the field
  3. To learn how to use a special decision-making tool to sort through everything an organization does from both a mission and earned income perspective

Location: Online

Website: Social Entrepreneurship Course at the Learning Institute (Adult Continuing Education Online)

5. Graduate Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Description: The Graduate Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation is designed for those working in and starting new ventures in the community sectors. It is aimed at those who want to know more about how innovation and entrepreneurship can help the health, wealth and well-being of their not-for-profit organisations and communities.
Some of the electives are the following:

  • Social Venture Funding
  • Foresight and Social Change
  • Opportunity Assessment

Location: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Website: The University of Adelaide

6. Program on Social Enterprise (PSE) at Yale University

Description: The Yale School of Management offers a wide array of elective courses that explore issues related to social enterprise, ranging from non-profit management to public policy, from environmental stewardship to business ethics.

Location: New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Website: Program on Social Enterprise at Yale

7. Social Entrepreneurship Outlook Program in Chennai

Description: SEOP is a four-month weekend course for passionate people who manage, work in or plan to start a non-profit or social venture. Participants get an opportunity to meet Ashoka Fellows who have applied business skills in running a non-profit. Case studies and films of social entrepreneurs are screened for better understanding.

Location: Chennai, India

Website: Social Entrepreneurship Outlook Program (SEOP)

For more information:
SEOP Course Coordinator(9445208867)
Centre for Social Initiative and Management (CSIM)
391/1, Venkatachalapathy Nagar
Alapakkam, Chennai – 600 116
Phone: 044 – 24867565 / 24867566

8. MSc Social Enterprise (Part-time)

Description: The MSc Social Enterprise is the only postgraduate degree in Scotland designed specifically for the growing Social Enterprise sector, developed through the collaboration of Glasgow Caledonian University and the Social Enterprise Academy.

Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Website: The Scottish Social Enterprise Academy

9. MSc/PgDip/PgCert Social Enterprise and Business Democracy

Description: This course is provided by the Sheffield Hallam University. It is designed to help you analyse and develop social enterprises using established knowledge on business democracy and co-operative management. This course is designed to address the needs of people engaged in developing democratic practice and business management.
Some of the course content consist of:

  • The context for social enterprise development
  • Charity trading and social enterprise
  • Developing strategies for change

Location: South Yorkshire, England, UK

Website: Sheffield Hallam University

10. Social Entrepreneurship Short Course at London Business School

Description: Last but not least, we have the social entrepreneurship short course from London Business School. It is entitled: “The New Revolution: Social Entrepreneurship
in the 21st Century.”

The aim of the course is to: provide a comprehensive overview of the emerging field of social entrepreneurship; understand what makes it distinctive; and identify the opportunities it affords to those who wish to become engaged, either full or part-time. The course will focus on the major challenges, both strategic and operational, faced by social entrepreneurs.

Location: London, England, UK

Website: The New Revolution: Social Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century

Share More Social Entrepreneurship Courses

Perhaps I have missed out on some courses that are out there.

Do you know any more social entrepreneurship courses that are being offered worldwide?

Feeling Like a Bird in a Cage…& Breaking Free

Do you ever feel like a bird trapped in a cage? Sometimes the worst situations can spark new business ideas.

The other day I went to a friend’s house to celebrate their birthday party. I went out to the back where the party was being held, and the friend showed me a bird that she owned which was locked up in a small cage.

Feeling Like a Bird Caged Up

My friend told me that the bird was very “smart” and had tried on numerous occasions to break free from the cage. I looked at the colorful little bird as it tried to peck its way out of the bars of the cage. It fluttered about, shook its wings furiously. But to no avail.

It was stuck there, and I listened to my friend who went on and said that the bird had been intelligent enough to lift open the cage door, but as it was about to open it fully, she caught it, and now she locked the door.

Birds Were Created to Fly

Now, I don’t spend so much of my attention on birds, but I suppose I looked at this bird and I really felt sorry for it. As it spread out its wings and tried to fly, it could not. It had been caged and trapped.

Humans are a bit strange for wanting to cage up birds in tight spaces.

It’s sometimes been asked of me, what kind of animal I’d like to be if I were one. The answer I usually give is that I’d like to be an eagle and soar above the clouds, through the skies and look down on the earth. Unfortunately, this bird in the cage could not do that. It could not do what it instinctively and naturally was made to do. It really was strange.

A Metaphor For Our Human Existence

I think there’s a lesson here, even for us humans. Don’t you ever feel like you’re a bird, trapped in a cage? You feel like you can soar above into the skies. You try as hard as you can to escape monotony and boredom and pain. Yet you feel like you keep ending up in your cage.

Fortunately for humans, we actually have more freedom. We have choice. We have the ability to challenge and change our circumstances. Many of the “cages” of human existence are all in the mind.

A Lesson for Leaders

Entrepreneurs, social innovators and people wanting more passion in their lives should remember this truth: The limits upon you are only the limits that you place upon yourself can make or break business ideas.