Re-connecting people and organizations through human-centered design
Kaveh and Jason.JPG

Service Design: Fostering Social Entrepreneurship

I helped a dentistry practice improve their new patient experience.


We designed and tested a new service concept to help social enterprises become sustainable.



Enable more young people to become social entrepreneurs. This challenge was part of a human-centered design course created by Acumen and


We developed a funding concept and got attitudinal validation from social entrepreneurs.


My eclectic teammates were:

Shikha Mittal (Master of Social Work Student)
Ismail Sayim (Master of Social Work Student)
Victoria Gray (Industrial Designer)
Jacob Lay (Acupuncturist)

What I Did

Designed network mapping activity
Expert interview
Facilitated ideation and idea selection
Interview guides
User interviews in context
Video editing for prototype




We sought to understand how social enterprises progress from idea to sustainability.



We interviewed social entrepreneurs in their workplaces.

Jason (left) interviews Kaveh (right), proprietor of Blank Space, a café and gallery with a mission to provide employment for neighborhood residents.

Jason (left) interviews Kaveh (right), proprietor of Blank Space, a café and gallery with a mission to provide employment for neighborhood residents.

My journey started when a friend asked me, ‘Should I give a damn about children starving in Africa?’
— Dan
How do I pursue this idea and maintain an income?
— Prianka
Mentors helped me with confidence.
— Andrew
You don’t need a mentor. Don’t seek validation. Just do it!
— Hamaira

Network Mapping

I designed a relational mapping activity. When we used it in interviews with social entrepreneurs, we (and they!) uncovered fresh insights about their support networks.




Affinity Mapping

After the interviews, we downloaded memorable quotes and observations. 


We grouped them to identify patterns and insights. 


We uncovered this key insight:

You can make an impact without making an income.


We reframed the problem around our key insight:

How might we help social entrepreneurs who are making an impact—but not making an income—move to financial sustainability?

Kaveh at Blank Space - 0008.JPG




A service that matches social entrepreneurs with corporate sponsors. Its value is providing sustainable income for social entrepreneurs to achieve their mission while giving companies the opportunity to enhance their brand by backing projects.


We brought our concept to life with this video:


Convince me you will actually be able to find funders.
— Dan

We emailed a link to the video along with a survey to several people in different stages of social entrepreneurship. The results were positive, with a healthy dose of skepticism about whether funders would value the service as much as entrepreneurs. 




If I were starting over, I would explore non-philanthropic pathways to sustainability. If this project were continuing, we would need to conduct research with potential funders, because viability depends on recruiting sponsors, so. Competitive analysis would be critical, because someone else might already be doing this.

My team, the "Beautiful Nerds"

My team, the "Beautiful Nerds"