Graduate School of International Policy & Management

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AUGUST 29, 2011

Graduate School of International Policy & Management


IPOL8623: Business Models for Sustainable Development

4 credits

August 29-December 13 Thursday 8:00-9:50 am

Room: Morse A101

Prof Lyuba Zarsky

McCone 119

Office Hours:

Wednesday 4-6 pm and by appointment


A wide range of actors--small and medium sized firms, social entrepreneurs, NGOs, impact investors, international development organizations, multinational corporations--are increasingly looking to market-based approaches to deliver social and environmental benefits.

This seminar explores the emerging use of business models to promote sustainable development, defined as improving the well-being of the poor while promoting eco-system resilience. Dominant development strategies employed by both government and business focused solely on growth tend to exclude the poor and degrade natural resources.

Business models define the way that enterprises create value by generating revenues through sales of products or services. To be financially sustainable, a business model must generate sufficient revenues to cover costs and earn a surplus/profit. Business models for sustainable development engage the poor as consumers, producers, and/or suppliers of environmentally sustainable products and services.

In this seminar, we will first explore the institutional context in which sustainable business models are emerging, including the ‘impact investment’ and ‘social responsibility’ movements; and then consider theoretical and methodological issues, including an analytical framework for ‘sustainable development’, a generic methodology for the design of a business model, and metrics for evaluating financial, social and environmental performance. We will also examine the key role of finance for sustainable business models, including social impact investing and micro-finance; and the role of government policy in helping sustainable business go to scale.

The second part of the seminar examines inclusive business models in four key sectors for sustainable development—energy, agriculture, water, and fisheries—and in the emerging area of climate resilience in coastal cities. For each sector, we will consider the key sustainability and development challenges and explore a range of successful business models. We will conclude by examining the challenge of going to scale, both in terms of business growth and development strategy.

Students will work in teams of four to undertake and orally present an in-depth case study of a successful business model is one of the five sectors. Students will also work in teams of two to design a business model and, in the final part of the seminar, present it to the class as a “pitch” to investors.



Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand and utilize a methodology to design a business model;

  • Understand the difference between “poverty alleviation” and “development”;

  • Articulate a theoretical framework for “sustainable development”;

  • Understand sustainability opportunities and challenges for business models in five key sectors (energy, agriculture and forestry, water, marine/coastal, and coastal urban climate resilience);

  • Understand the relationship between sustainable development and climate resilience;

  • Evaluate social and environmental benefits of a business model;

  • Understand the challenges and opportunities of social impact investing;

  • Critically assess proposed policies to scale up successful business models;

  • Design and undertake a business model case study;

  • Design a business model that promotes sustainable development.


Required texts: None

Recommended texts (on reserve in MIIS library):

Boyd, Brewster, Nina Henning, Emily Reyna, Daniel E. Wang, and Matthew D. Welch, Hybrid Organizations, New Business Models for Environmental Leadership, Greenleaf, 2009.

Hamann, Ralph, Stu Woolman and Courtenay Sprague, The Business of Sustainable Development in Africa, Human Rights, Partnerships, Alternative Business Models, Tokyo: UNU Press, 2008.

Hamschmidt, Jost and Michael Pirson (eds.) Case Studies in Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, The Oikos Collection Volume 2, 2011.

Hamschmidt, Jost (ed). Case Studies in Sustainability Management and Strategy, The Oikos Collection,

Greenleaf, 2007.

Hart, Stuart L., Capitalism at the Crossroads: Next Generation Business Strategies for a Post-Crisis World, third edition, Wharton Press, 2010.

Osterwalder, Alexander and Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation, John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

Prahalad, C.K. The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Eradicating Poverty Through Profits,

Wharton School Publishing, 2005.

Waddock, Sandra and Malcolm McIntosh, SEE Change, Making the Transition to a Sustainable Enterprise Economy, Greenleaf Publishing, 2011.

Websites: You can find examples of or pointers to case studies of sustainable business models in the Boyd et al and Hamschmidt and Pirson books above, in many of the assigned readings and on these websites:


World Resources Institute, Next Billion: Development through enterprise

Monitor Institute

Global Impact Investing Network

Business fights poverty, case studies

Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs

International Institute of Environment and Development, Sustainable Markets


Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy

FAO-PISCES Case studies of small-scale bio-energy initiatives

e+co Energy through Enterprise


Sustainable Food Laboratory


Water for People, Initiatives

Acumen Fund, Water portfolio


Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific


The course methodology consists of lectures by instructor, guest speakers, student discussion in large and small groups, in-class and out-of class discussion, student oral presentations, and in-class exercises. Essential parts of the methodology are the two class assignments, viz, a case study of a currently functioning business model that students will undertake in teams of four and which must include both desk review and at least two interviews; and the business model that students will design in teams of two and present as a “pitch” to investors.

Students are expected to do all the readings and attend all class sessions. More than one unexcused absence will result in a grade of “Incomplete”.


Student Honor Code

All members of the Monterey Institute student community shall adhere to and help maintain a

high level of personal and professional behavior that is respectful of the dignity of all persons,

respectful of the rights and property of others, and treats equally the ideas and opinions of all

students who work and study at the Institute. These responsibilities include concern for the

feelings of others and their right to live and study in conditions that support their work and

development. Allegiance to these ideals requires each Institute student to refrain from and

discourage behaviors that threaten the freedom and respect every individual deserves.

The student conduct code promotes a campus environment that supports the overall educational

mission of the Monterey Institute and is intended to help protect the Institute community from

disruption and harm; to encourage appropriate standards of individual and group behavior; and to

foster ethical standards and civic virtues. A due process is also set forth as an integral part of the

code and to be used in those cases when the conduct of a member of the student community has

been brought to the attention of the student conduct administrator.

PLAGIARISM: The term “plagiarism” means representing another individual’s words, ideas, opinions, formulæ,

programs, or products as one’s own without attributing them to their true sources. Intentional or

unintentional failure to attribute facts that are not common knowledge (whether represented in

textual, graphic, statistical, or visual form) also constitutes plagiarism. All writing submitted for

formal and informal assessment must be the student’s own work.

Whether a student copies verbatim or paraphrases without explicitly acknowledging the source,

the student has committed intellectual property theft. Receiving permission from the original

author to use his or her ideas or words is irrelevant and in no way lessens the seriousness of a

failure to acknowledge and credit sources. Writing a paper by cutting and pasting passages from

other sources is never acceptable, even if those sources appear in the reference list or

bibliography. In drafting and composing all papers and other written work, students must make

every effort to distinguish their own ideas, arguments, and knowledge from information derived

from other sources. These sources include not only published primary and secondary print and

digital texts, but also information, opinions, and arguments gained directly from other persons,

including fellow students.

Individual students are responsible for learning effective methods of acknowledging and citing

sources. They should consult their instructors, the Graduate Writing Center, as well as other

reputable resources that define plagiarism and that provide instruction on avoiding this serious

breach of academic and professional conduct. Further resources available for avoiding plagiarism

and the perception thereof include software programs designed to detect plagiarism.

Policies and Standards Manual, Spring 2011

Any evidence of plagiarism in this course will be considered a violation of the Honor Code and will be investigated and if appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken. If you have any questions about whether you are providing adequate acknowledgement of others’ work, please ask the instructor.


Students are expected to come to class having completed assigned readings and to add value to class discussions. Assessment will be based on:

  1. Business model case study -- 35 points

Working in teams of 4-5, students will describe and evaluate the business model of a functioning “sustainability impact” business that aims to serve the poor in one of five sectors: energy, water, agriculture, marine/coastal resources, and coastal city climate reslience. The case study will utilize The Business Model Canvas as an analytical framework and SWOT to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. The case study should be no more than 3500-4000 words in length. Students will be graded as a team.

  1. Oral presentation of business model case study – 25 points

Students will make an oral presentation of their case study in class, followed by a question and answer period. The presentations will occur in the class relevant to that sector. Each student will be assessed on their individual presentation but the team will receive one grade based on the average of the individual grades.

  1. Investor pitch -- 40 points

Working in groups of two, students will design and orally present a proposed business model in class as a “pitch” to potential investors. The model should specify the need for the business, how it will address the 9 Building Blocks, the method of evaluation of social and environmental impacts, and the need for start-up capital. There will be an award for the model selected by professor and students as the most investment-worthy.

  • Letter grades will be based on the following performance:

A 90-100% (Excellent)

B 80-89% (Good)

C 70-79% (Satisfactory)

D 60-69% (Poor)

F 0-59% (Fail)

Grades will be awarded with plus and minus designations when the student’s numerical score is in the very top or bottom end of the grade ranges described above. As noted in the PSM, quality points are assigned as follows:

A and A+ 4.00 grade points per credit.

A- (minus) 3.67 C 2.00 D+ 1.33

B+ (plus) 3.33 C+ 2.33 D- 0.67

B 3.00 C- 1.67 F (Fail) 0.00

B- 2.67 D 1.00

P (Pass) Credit for course, no grade points.

NP (No Pass) No grade points or credit.

I (Incomplete) No grade points or credit.

W (Withdrawal with permission) No grade points or credit.

AU (Audit) No grade points or credit.

IP (In Progress) No grade points or credit.

There is no other system of grading or grading category at the Monterey Institute other than

those listed above.

Except for grades of “I’ and “IP,”(see sections 5.3 and 5.4 in Policies and Standards Manual ) all grades are considered final when reported by a faculty member at the end of a semester or marking period. A change of grade may be requested only when a calculation, clerical, administrative, or recording error is discovered in the original

assignment of a course grade or when a decision is made by a faculty member to change the

grade as a result of the disputed academic evaluation procedure (see section 5.2 in Policies and Standard Manual). Grade changes necessitated by acalculation, clerical, administrative, or recording error must be reported within a period of six months from the time the grade is awarded. No grade may be changed as the result of a reevaluationof a student’s work or the submission of supplemental work following the close

of a semester or marking period. The Records Office shall only accept permissible changes of

grade upon written approval of the faculty member’s dean, who shall first verify that the Change

of Grade request satisfies legitimate criticism.


Course outline

September 1 Global poverty and sustainability: why business?

September 8 Sustainable development: a framework and a vision

September 15 What is a (sustainable) business model?

September 22 Finance for sustainable business models

September 29 Measuring performance: financial, social, environmental

Guest speaker: Lindsey Yeung, Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs

October 5 Bio-fuels: Market promise and governance challenge

Jacob Deline, Abundant Bio-Fuels

Kevin Fingerman, Round Table on Sustainable Bio-Fuels,

Casa Fuente 434, 6-7:50 pm.

October 6 Policies that support scale-ability of sustainable business models

October 13 Energy

October 20 Water

October 27 No class (instead attend Bio-Fuels panel on October 5)

November 3 Agriculture

November 10 Fisheries

November 17 Coastal city climate resilience

November 24 NO CLASS – Thanksgiving

December 1 Student pitches of proposed business

December 8 Student pitches of proposed business

Course readings and assignments

Sept 1

Global poverty and sustainability:

why business?

1) Waddock and McIntosh, Chap 1, The context for SEEing Change (on reserve)

2) World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Vision 2050, The new agenda for business in brief

3) Monitor Institute, Promise and progress, market-based solutions to poverty in Africa, Executive Summary


4) Foster, The business sector’s pivotal role in growth,

In class: Students form teams for case studies

Sept 8

Sustainable development: a framework and a vision

1) Easterly, The Elusive Quest for Growth, prologue and Chap 1

2) Sen, Development as Freedom, preface and Introduction

3) Hahn, Sustainable development at the BoP, chap 25 in Kandacher and Halme

4) Swedish Environmental Advisory Council, Resilience and sustainable development

5) Porritt, Sustainable development for real, pp. 21-34

Out of class assignment: Teams meet to select and develop methodology to undertake case study

Sept 15

What is a (sustainable) business model?

  1. 1) Osterwalder and Pigneur, Business model generation, pp 14-55 & 200-225

  1. Willard, 5 Criteria for a sustainable business model

  2. 3) DEFRA, What is a sustainable business model?

  3. 4) Monitor Institute, Promise and Progress: Market-Based Solutions to Poverty in Africa, Executive Summary,



Boyd Chaps 1-4

Monitor Institute, Emerging Markets Emerging Models (online)

Sept 22


  1. Monitor Institute, Investing for social and environmental impact, pp 3-41 (online)

  1. New sources of funding

  1. 3) Hamschmidt and Pirson, Oikos Collection, Case 7, Atlis, A microfinance startup in rural Nepal


UNDP, Bringing small scale finance to the poor for modern energy services: what is the role of government?

Sept 29

Measuring performance

Guest speaker:

Lindsey Yeung

Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs

  1. Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, 2010 Impact Report, Executive Summary

  1. e+CO Monitoring and evaluation program

  1. Impact Reporting and Investment Standards, read website

Oct 5

Guest speakers

6-8 pm

Casa Fuentes 434

Bio-fuels: Market Promise and Governance Challenge,

Jacob Deline, Abundant Bio-Fuels

Kevin Fingerman, Round Table on Sustainable Bio-


Oct 6

Policies that promote scale-ability of sustainable business models

  1. Monitor Institute, Impact investing: A framework for policy design and analysis, pp 14-30, 42-58, 74-78

  1. Grounding Green Power, Executive Summary

  1. Wilson et al, Lights on or trade off? Can base-of-the pyramid approaches deliver solutions to energy poverty? In Kandachar and Halme, Chap 2

October 13


  1. Energy poverty: the hidden energy crisis, Practical Action

  1. Fabio Rosa, Bridging the electricity divide in Brazil, Oikos Collection, Case 5

(cont’d) next page)

  1. WRI, Power to the people: investing in clean energy for the base of the pyramid in India

  1. Univ of Michigan Business School, Tecnosol case study


PISCES and FAO, Small-scale bio-energy initiatives pp i-53, 67-69 (online)

Krupp and Horn (on reserve) Chap 6

Greenbiz , Grameen Shakhti

October 20


  1. Jonathan Foley, The other inconvenient truth: the crisis in global land use

  1. 2) CIAT, Study reveals “hot spots” of risk…climate change

  1. IIED, Under what conditions are value chains effective tools for pro-poor development? pp 2-41

  1. Branzei and Valente, Honey Care Africa

  1. New business models for sustainable trading

  1. 5) Promise and Progress, Smallholder farmer aggregation, pp 52-63

  2. 6) Unilever unveils plan to decouple business growth from environmental impact

  3. 5) World Economic Forum, A New Vision for Agriculture


Boyd, Chaps 6 and 8

FAO, How to feed the world by 2050

Sonja Vermeulen and Lorenzo Cotula, Making the most of agricultural investment: A survey of business models that provide opportunities for smallholders, IIED and IFAD, 2010 (online)

October 27


Attend Bio-Fuels Panel on October 5 (see above)

Nov 3


  1. UNDP, Summary Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: power, poverty and the global water crisis, Overview

  1. Hamschmidt and Pirson, Oikos Collection, 2011:

  • Case 10, Trevor Field and the PlayPumps of Africa

  • Case 11, Water Health International


Oikos Collection Case 9, Proctor and Gamble’s PuR Water Purifier

UN World Water Development Report 2009

Nov 10


  1. Shocking report shows world’s oceans facing extinction crisis, June 2011,

  1. Coastal ecosystems for countless benefits, Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building for Management Program, Advisory Paper, October 2009

  1. Poverty alleviation in small-scale fishing communities,

  1. Alexander Nick, Transforming the global fishing industry: The Marine Stewardship Council at Full Sail? in Hamschmidt, 2007 Case 5

  1. Conservation Magazine, Taming the blue frontier, June 2009,

  1. Environmental Defense, Sharing the catch in Belize,

  1. FAO, Pro-poor seafood trade: challenges and investment opportunities for small-scale aquaculture farmers


De Silva and Davey (eds) Success stories in Asian aquaculture, Network of Asian Aquaculture, 2009 (available on line

Nov 17

Coastal city climate resilience

  1. 1) World Bank, Climate change, disaster risk and the urban poor

  1. WWF, Mega stress for mega cities, 2009, Executive Summary (online)

  1. Intellcap, Opportunities for private sector engagement in urban climate change resilience building, 2011,

pp 5-39 (online)

Nov 24


Dec 1

Student “pitch” presentations

Dec 8

Student “pitch” presentations

*Syllabi are subject to change by the instructor with advance notice to students Page


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