In addition to teaching Entrepreneurship, which equips students with the business language and concepts needed for real-world venture success beyond DSI, Kobla Asamoah serves as the Program Director for Hot Bread Kitchen’s business incubator. His focus here is on expanding the program and works closely with clients to provide development resources that will aid in their business growth ambitions. Prior to his work in non-profit, Kobla spent several years working with mid to large size companies on corporate finance, investor relations and other institutional ownership related topics.
What is Design for Social Innovation?
It is the intersection of new processes and frameworks on a variety of long standing societal issues. For me, DSI is deploying innovation–the activity of delivering a product or service as well as aligning the incentives of these activities with mission-based outcomes.
What would you like to say to prospective students about the program & the course you teach?
I would say that prospective students should expect to both engage readings and cases on elements of social entrepreneurship but also interact with real life entrepreneurs and the decisions, planning and trade-offs related to their journey. In addition, over the last two years, we have experimented with looking at the students’ own thesis through the lense of creating a social enterprise.
Can you talk a little bit about your background and the work you do outside of DSI?
For the last several years I have worked for a social enterprise, focused on creating careers in the food industry. Specifically, I run an incubator that helps food entrepreneurs start and grow their business, providing shared commercial kitchen space as well as business development support. This experience has really given me both an understanding of what small businesses face in trying to build their enterprise, and the many areas that my team and I can really impact their success.
Can you talk in more detail about a project that you are working on?
One of the areas that we have found particularly challenging for the entrepreneurs that we serve is access to market opportunities. In other words getting to the sale. Because of our network and relationships in the marketplace, we have been able to open doors for many businesses through opportunities to sell to major retailers, participate in highly trafficked markets and connect directly with otherwise unattainable opportunities to sell their products.
If you could give one piece of advice to students starting DSI, what would it be?
For my class specifically, I would say that students should come with an open mind and a willingness to investigate how business frameworks, models and methods can and have been successfully used to address social challenges.