Social Entrepreneurship Program

At Stanford GSB, you’ll find a rich array of academic and co-curricular opportunities to explore social entrepreneurship and build a social or environmental venture from the ground up.

The Center for Social Innovation can provide resources to help you immerse yourself and learn more about the problem, define the opportunities for impact, develop solution hypotheses, build a business model (nonprofit or for-profit), find advisors, and make a plan to raise the resources needed to turn your idea into reality.

Courses Taught by World-Class Faculty

Through your coursework, develop your entrepreneurial skills, learn how to integrate design thinking and social innovation, prepare to measure the impact of your venture model, and navigate the funding landscape.

Financial Support

Receive support for early-stage experimentation, summer immersion in the social entrepreneurship space, and launch your social or environmental venture after graduation.

Expert Guidance

Develop your idea through events and workshops:

  • One-on-one conversations with leading social entrepreneurs – including our Visiting Social Entrepreneurs – will provide external feedback to inform and anchor student planning and provide helpful advice for taking your venture to the next level
  • Workshops and peer activities will provide structured opportunities to build your idea, strengthen your theory of change, and implement next steps to better understand your problem area, develop a prototype, and clarify next steps for your venture
  • Coaching from CSI pulls it all together. You’ll find both the support and the rigor needed to keep you on track as you plan your academic experience and aim toward the launch of your social venture

Meet the CSI Visiting Social Entrepreneurs

Each year, CSI invites leading social entrepreneurs with diverse perspectives and lived experiences to mentor, guide, and inspire the next generation of changemakers at the GSB.


Founder & CEO, Expect Fitness

Dara Cook is the founder and CEO of Expect Fitness, a prenatal and postnatal streaming fitness platform approved by OB/GYNs, designed for safety and optimized for pregnancy to reduce maternal and child complications. Expect has achieved a clinical study with the University of Alabama at Birmingham's #5 OB/GYN department; trials with Penn Medicine's Helen O. Dickens Women's Health Center, NYC Department of Health's Brownsville Neighborhood Health Action Center, and various Healthy Start programs. Before launching Expect, Dara spent 22 years at MTV, most recently as senior vice president of MTV Entertainment, which encompassed MTV, Comedy Central, and MTV International, among others. She launched MTV’s touring and podcast businesses and was named one of the Most Influential Minorities in Cable.

Founder, Ahaana Ventures

Sonali Mehta-Rao is the founder and CEO of Ahaana Ventures, which offers entrepreneur-centric investing, coaching, and capacity building to underrepresented social and eco-entrepreneurs (women, minorities, and indigenous founders) in South Asia. Sonali was previously the co-founder and chief growth officer of Awaaz.De, a fintech company with a B2B SaaS product for customer engagement enabling microfinance institutions to more effectively communicate with rural women customers. Earlier in her career, Sonali co-founded and led Mela Artisans, a social enterprise focused on unlocking global markets for marginalized artisan communities in India.

Founder, Poder Capital

Alexandra Ruiz is the founder and CEO of Poder Capital, a lending platform by and for the Latinx community that uses a community-focused lending process to determine loan readiness and unlock capital for Latinx entrepreneurs. Alexandra spent five years working for the City of New York, where she developed the city's vaccination strategy for 12- to 17-year-olds and served as the executive director of programs at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Alexandra also previously founded and led a nonprofit that provides services and resources to immigrant New Yorkers.

Founder & CEO, Surge Institute

Carmita Samaan is the founder and CEO of the Surge Institute, a nonprofit that develops and educates leaders of color who create transformative change for young people, their families, and their broader communities. Since launching in 2014 in Chicago, Surge has expanded to six additional markets and has served 367 alumni who directly impact 3.4 million students across the country. Carmita's superpower is supporting and elevating the genius of emerging and seasoned leaders—particularly women and people of color—and shining a light on the brilliance and ingenuity that is too often overlooked and untapped in solving systemic issues.

Founder, Virtudent

Hitesh Tolani, DMD, was the founder and CEO of Virtudent, America's first and leading telemedicine company for oral health. Started in 2013, Hitesh helped change telemedicine laws state-by-state and roll out telemedicine parity with America's largest insurance companies, for which he was repeatedly named among the most influential people in dentistry. Virtudent served ~250 of the largest companies nationwide (e.g., Microsoft, CVS, Fidelity Investments, TJX, Wayfair), while providing free dental care to thousands of children in social safety net programs. After a recent successful exit, Hitesh founded Gays of National Parks, and partnered with the National Park Service & Public Lands Alliance, to address the loneliness epidemic for LGBTQIA+ people.

Founder, WellMoney

Kortney Ziegler, PhD, is the founder and CEO of WellMoney, a money-sharing community that enables members to both receive and provide monetary aid during times of financial emergencies. Kourtney is a serial social entrepreneur who previously co-founded a crowdfunding platform—Appolition—that raised over $1 million to pay bail for people who couldn’t afford it and Trans*H4CK, a nonprofit that created tech for the transgender community and visibility for trans technologists and entrepreneurs.