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Gift in honour of Sauder alumna supports social entrepreneurship

September 26, 2014

When Sarah Dodds (BCom ’92) tragically passed away after a cycling accident in Northern France in 2008, a group of friends and family joined forces to celebrate her life by contributing to social entrepreneurship initiatives, Sarah’s lifelong passion.

The group established The Sarah Dodds Fund, an organization that aims to support the development of social enterprises and individuals interested in social innovation.

“We hope that students will see the impact Sarah made (in social enterprises) and will follow in her footsteps,” said Rachel Dodds, Sarah’s sister and leader of the Fund.

Sarah’s passion for social entrepreneurship was evidenced in her work and life. In 2000-2002, she helped Gib Bullock (now Executive Director of the program) launch the well-known Accenture Development Partnerships Program, which employs an innovative not-for-profit business model that makes the core skills and assets of Accenture accessible to the international development sector to help strengthen organizations and build emerging markets from within. Sarah also devoted time during her career to several other social purpose organizations including Crisis, a program dedicated to ending homelessness, and as Director of Ventures for UnLtd, a foundation for social entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom.

The Sarah Dodds Fund supports an accelerator program that connects MBA graduates and other highly skilled individuals with early stage social initiatives to support capacity-building and investment readiness. Internships are financed from funds raised in Sarah’s memory and are supported by pro bono commitments from her network.

The internships serve two purposes—to support social enterprises as they scale up and become sustainable, and inspire students to use their careers as a way to build social capital and influence environmental change.

Mariana de los Rios, a fourth year Bachelor of Commerce student at the Sauder School, is the first student in North America to receive funding for an internship from the Sarah Dodds Fund.

“It’s amazing to see how Sarah’s passion teamed with her determination for excellence has created a legacy that is giving opportunities to students like myself. I am very grateful to have received funding for my internship with ISIS and the chance to work in an area that was so close to Sarah”, Mariana said.

This past summer, she worked closely with ISIS, Sauder’s social innovation and sustainability research centre, in support of a social enterprise. Mariana chose to get involved with ISIS because of her passion for entrepreneurship and innovation, but says she had not previously considered social enterprise as a viable career option.

The summer position allowed Mariana to work side by side with social entrepreneurs, interact with a team of social innovators, and ultimately contribute to their success. The experience has opened her eyes to this budding business segment that aligns entrepreneurship and social impact.

“Most people focus on the corporate models of entrepreneurship and don’t realize that there are a lot of opportunities in social enterprises,” she added.

The Sarah Dodds Fund has focused on a multitude of different initiatives and social enterprise projects since it was established in 2008. However, a critical part of the Fund’s strategy is to keep the focus on students—investing in their education, providing experiential learning opportunities and raising awareness of the career options that exist in the social innovation space.

“We want to inspire and motivate students to consider a career in social entrepreneurship and not just look for a job at a bank,” said Rachel. “Sarah was passionate about helping people and businesses and saw their potential for good. She realized the inspiration to contribute to social and environmental issues often happens at the learning stage, through a person’s experience at school.”

At the end of her internship at ISIS, Mariana headed to her native Colombia to collaborate with social entrepreneurs. She explained that the Colombian market is still in its early stages of social entrepreneurship, and many young entrepreneurs have only recently started to incorporate social and environmental initiatives to their businesses.

“Entrepreneurs are looking for ways to increase awareness and communicate their commitment to consumers. We are working together to raise awareness and help increase the value placed on social ventures,” she explained.

The Sauder School of Business thanks the Sarah Dodds Fund for its generous support of this internship and for helping us to inspire young business students to create social and environmental change.

For more information on the Sarah Dodds Fund, please visit www.sarahdodds.org