Designing Social Value: Informed Programme Development for Future-Focused Social Entrepreneurship in Africa



Design Education Strategy


  • sustainability, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship


The emergence of young African social entrepreneurs who design social change could translate to significant social value design that, in turn, could improve the future of several communities. Nevertheless, the designed value will only benefit the continent if it is substantial and sustainable. The problem is that many social entrepreneurial endeavours are implemented without a long-term future focus or an understanding of how social value is conceptualised. For this reason, tertiary institutions in Africa should consider presenting training or education related to sustainable social value design.

Social value design, taught in institutions in South Africa, is often linked to programmes in social entrepreneurship, but it could benefit other programmes as well. However, the educators who develop these programmes take on the role of a social sustainability designer when they respond creatively with relevant programme designs that address prevailing social, economic, educational, health and environmental problems. In addition, these educators have to be future-focused and have insight into what the end result (in this instance, the programme or module) should include. Those who enrol for these programmes or modules similarly have to design their projects to add intended social value, and they need a full understanding of what social value specifically entails. The relevant outcomes of these programmes should ideally be informed by practitioners who are currently engaged in the field and who are future-focused.

This paper reports on research done to inform programme design at a university in South Africa with a particular focus on social value design. The research design was a multiple case study, and future-focused social entrepreneurs in practice were interviewed. A purposive sample of nine cases was selected from various countries on the African continent with one of the criteria being that the endeavours were sustainable for more than two years and reflected a particular interest in the future of those for whom they created social value. The objectives for this research focused on

  1. how participants define social value within their context, and
  2. why they see this as sustainable for the future.

The paper makes recommendations relevant to programme design for future-fit social entrepreneurs. It has a particular focus on how to incorporate the various dimensions of social value for Africa into designing a training programme or modules that incorporate social value.

Keywords: Design for social sustainability, education, programme design, social entrepreneurship, social value


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