Skyline University Nigeria

Role of Higher Educational Institutions in empowering youth to build a compassionate society

Across the globe, in the post-pandemic scenario, there is a growing interest among academicians and government agencies to promote social entrepreneurship as a remedy for many social menaces. It could be sustainability, hunger issues, empowering the deprived sections in society, protection of the environment, etc. The research also meant that universities and higher educational institutions (HEI) can, must and should play a significant role in fostering or nurturing empathy by evoking social entrepreneurial intent in the young generation through curriculum, co-curricular activities and involving students in community services during their academic tenure in a university/HEI (Mavuri.S, 2019).

Research also proved that such efforts of educational institutions will go a long way in instilling human values and kindness in the young generation as their way of life. This, in turn, will help to build a compassionate society with a business of having a social entrepreneurial mindset and the emergence of social entrepreneurs from every sphere of an economy.

Social Entrepreneurs are encouraged and promoted as they might offer solutions to environmental and social problems countries face and generate social value by offering sustainable solutions over a period of time. In recent times, the pandemic has created avenues for the emergence of new business opportunities which needs the attention of the businesses to address social problems, to name a few like online education, food safety, emergency management, online medical care, healthy living, telemedicine, the reworking of supply chains, remote communication, and better waste management. All these are such business ideas which are not just private This may create opportunities and ideas for the development of social entrepreneurship projects. Let us look at some of the variables which foster social entrepreneurial intent explained in an academic research model developed by Hockerts (2017).

Prior experience

Prior experience is the exposure and involvement in several social entrepreneurship activities, which may inculcate the desire to work with and find solutions to critical social issues. Prior experience with social issues gives confidence and makes people believe that they can make a difference in society. Involvement in social activities, social organizations, and social volunteer activities are linked with a positive attitude toward social entrepreneurship and result in greater self-efficacy.


Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions, thoughts, and motivations of another and to resonate with them. Empathy can be of two types – Cognitive and Affective. Cognitive empathy is an ability to recognize and understand the pain of another person, whether or not you are resonating with them. Affective Empathy is not just understanding their pain but feeling the pain of others and helping them. Empathy and Compassion drive attitude towards the behaviour. According to Ajzen and other researchers attitude towards behaviour is one’s assessment towards performing or not performing certain behaviour which has a positive impact on social entrepreneurial intent. Empathy is an antecedent to social intent. It can also act as a trigger for the social entrepreneurial process.

Moral obligation

According to past literature personal moral values and standards are important traits a social entrepreneur possesses. Human decision-making is influenced by values and morals and there is evidence of the role of values in attitude formation and behaviour. One of the determinants of behaviour is perceived moral beliefs and adherence to societal moral standards. The study uses the perception that societal norms imply a moral obligation to help people excluded by society.

Social entrepreneurial self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief in the abilities of oneself and to exhibit behaviour to produce a given level of achievement. It is confidence in one’s competence to successfully perform tasks related to a new venture. According to some research studies, individuals with high social entrepreneurial self-efficacy will tend to create more social value. Past research contradicts the relationship between self-efficacy and social entrepreneurial intent. Some studies conclude that there is a positive relationship between self-efficacy and social entrepreneurial intent. The effect may be direct on intent or indirect in the form of perceived feasibility. There are some studies which did not find any relationship between self-efficacy and social entrepreneurial intent in their research. Self-efficacy is a variable in every social entrepreneurship model which makes a person believe in himself and results in the perception that the creation of a social venture is feasible.

Perceived social support

Social Support is the support in the form of trust and cooperation from the government, banks, family and friends. Social support plays an important role to foster the intent of young people and helps in enabling the social entrepreneurial process. It is a known fact that entrepreneurial networks and networking affect the entrepreneurial process. Family and friends share bonding and trust which play a key role in shaping the intention towards becoming social entrepreneurs. The perceived social support to a great extent influences the perceived feasibility and in turn the intent. The degree of social acceptability and social support in terms of providing resources is one of the predictors of entrepreneurial intention. 

Social entrepreneurial intent

Social entrepreneurial intent is to add value to the existing social enterprise or create a new one. The intent measures how serious a person is about a social issue and the time and effort one invests in a social cause and makes it a reality (Ajzen, 1991). Individuals’ personal characteristics to a great extent influence entrepreneurial intentions. Social Intent on implementation manifests into a social enterprise. Prieto defined social entrepreneurial intention as the innovative purpose that a person exhibits in starting a social company to create social value. The studies on social entrepreneurial intention have exhibited the involvement in social enterprises and environmental support toward social entrepreneur intention (Hockerts, 2017).

According to the study by Chavali, (2021), some of the important activities universities/HEIs can plan for students to promote their social entrepreneurial intent in them are – exposure to students in the volunteer field with organizations that work for a social cause, workshops by government bodies, emotional, social and ethical skill training, networking with alumni, working with sustainable development projects, mentoring, nurture new ideas of students, and student exchange Programmes. 

To conclude, universities/HEIs can instil the social entrepreneurial intent among students to consider social entrepreneurship as their career option and to be a compassionate and kind citizens in society can happen only by involving and making them participate in the activities physically but not just by teaching them in the classrooms as a part of the curriculum. 


Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behaviour. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2),179-211.

Hockerts, K. (2017). Determinants of social entrepreneurial intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 41(1), 105-130.

Mavuri, S. Chavali, K. and Ajith Kumar (2019). A study on imperative innovation eco system linkages to map Sustainable Development Goal 9. Proceeding of 2019 International Conference on Digitization Landscaping Artificial Intelligence, ICD, 2020, 0, 142-147

Chavali, K., Mavuri, S. and Durrah, O. (2022). Factors Affecting Social Entrepreneurial Intent: Significance of Student Engagement Initiatives in Higher Education Institutions. World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 233–251.


Dr. Sudha Mavuri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, and the current Dean of Arts, Management and Social Science, Skyline University, Nigeria. She has a Ph.D in Economics, from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India.

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