Introduction from Executive Director, Dr Peter Drobac.
In the first years of this decisive decade, the world has changed irrevocably. The Covid-19 pandemic, yawning inequality, the climate crisis, racial injustice all herald an era of systemic disruption. The future of our children, and generations to come, depend on how we respond. Can we summon the moral imagination to shift course? In short, we need social entrepreneurs – and socially entrepreneurial leaders — now more than ever.
For nearly two decades, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship has been investing in the change leaders of the future. Our flagship programme, the Skoll Scholarship, has supported proven and promising social entrepreneurs since 2004. Our Scholars have not only gone on to exceptional accomplishment, they have nurtured a vibrant network that remains the beating heart of the Skoll Centre.
As the Centre and the impact ecosystem at Saïd Business School grew, increasing numbers of MBA students have come to Oxford looking to develop impact careers. We started the Impact Lab in 2018 to meet this growing demand, and to address the shifting skills needed to drive change in an interconnected world.
This report summarises a detailed study that aimed to understand and articulate how the Skoll Scholarship and Impact Lab have affected the trajectories and impact of our extraordinary alumni. The retrospective study was conducted independently by Openwell. Measuring and attributing impact is challenging under the best of circumstances, not least when assessing the long-term impact of an educational programme. Our goal is to learn, share, and continuously improve.
Many thanks to my extraordinary colleagues at the Skoll Centre – past and present – whose passion and creativity make the Centre a magnet for changemakers around the world. Bronwyn Dugtig has shaped and led the Impact Lab since its inception. Claire Joubert, and Breanne Svehla previously, has done a remarkable job of supporting and diversifying the Skoll Scholar community. Lydia Darley literally makes it all happen, and Georgia Rafferty amplifies the voices of this remarkable community.
And to our broader collective of faculty, affiliates, alumni and partners – dozens of whom contribute to these programmes each year – we are immensely grateful.
I’d like to offer special thanks to our friends at the Skoll Foundation, who have been with us every step of the way for nearly two decades, and whose support and thought leadership continues to make this important work possible.
I hope you draw insights and inspiration from this report, and that you’ll join us in cultivating the next generation of changemakers and entrepreneurial leaders.