Original Research - Special Collection: Creating value through entrepreneurial learning

Addressing global challenges with compassion: The role of entrepreneurship education

Marta Lindvert
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 15, No 1 | a675 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v15i1.675 | © 2023 Marta Lindvert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 November 2022 | Published: 27 October 2023

About the author(s)

Marta Lindvert, Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Nord University Business School, Bodø, Norway; and Department of Economics, Geography, Law and Tourism, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden


Background: Entrepreneurs have the potential to play an especially important role for sustainable development, considering their very foundational character of finding solutions to problems in different creative ways. Thus, we need more entrepreneurs who are willing to address global challenges of today.

Aim: This paper aims to discuss the role of compassion in entrepreneurship education, particularly within experience-based teaching.

Setting: Based on a 3-week course, where students were exposed to poverty and other challenges in the Global South, the focus is on how experience-based teaching affected their compassion and motivation related to sustainability issues.

Methods: This qualitative study is based on longitudinal interview data collected during a 3-week entrepreneurship education course, involving 23 master’s students from various academic disciplines. The course included a field visit to an underprivileged, rural area in India.

Results: Students gained a deeper understanding of social and economic sustainability. After the field visit, they expressed stronger focus on compassion and empathy and deeper interest in working with sustainability issues. Further, they expressed an increased interest for entrepreneurship.

Conclusion: The rich data collected during the process described above, gives in-depth insights on how students can develop compassion, empathy and a deeper understanding for global challenges of today.

Contribution: Findings contribute to entrepreneurship literature, by highlighting the importance of compassion and empathy, and to the topic of entrepreneurship education, by discussing how students can be trained to develop these characteristics.


entrepreneurship education; experience-based learning; compassion; SDGs; India; qualitative methods.

JEL Codes

A13: Relation of Economics to Social Values; A20: General; D63: Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement; I21: Analysis of Education

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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