In 2016, Utrecht University initiated an academic chair with the support of its partners. The chair will focus on the growing field of social entrepreneurship and, more in particular, on scaling enterprise solutions to tackle societal challenges. Innovation in the value chain are needed to solve some of the most pressing societal issues our world faces. The question then arises: ‘How can enterprise solutions contribute to creating a more just and sustainable society?’
A perfect example was provided by the Body Shop in its early days, and its founder Anita Roddick. The company set out to produce cosmetics in a responsible way by refraining from animal testing beyond what was legally required. It promoted the interests of indigenous people, stood up for human rights and cared for the environment. The company was a great example of ‘social theory in action’ through advocacy and change.
In a likeminded effort, Tony’s Chocolonely, one of the sponsors of the chair, aims for producing slave-free cocoa in developing and emerging markets beyond procurement of the beans, production of the chocolate, and promotion and distribution of its products. Tony’s wants to revolutionise the value chain by influencing the entire industry – demonstrating that social progress is possible. Two PhD students will make an effort to better understand the change processes towards radical change and make a contribution that is theoretically and practically relevant.