Center for Social Entrepreneurship

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Fueling Detroit's Future:
Empowering Innovation for Social Impact

As Detroit's rebirth marches on, entrepreneurship has proven to be the best fuel for the economic engine and a powerful tool to address social issues in innovative ways.

As a result, there is a rich ecosystem of entrepreneurial support programs throughout the region. The University of Detroit Mercy's Center for Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) opened in 2016 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the College of Business Administration to work with these partners and play a critical role in this ecosystem by leading the social entrepreneurship movement.

Empowering Detroit's entrepreneurs: Providing the education, skills, resources, and mentorship for business success and community growth


The Boost program is at the heart of what we do at the CSE.  Boost is a ten-week, intensive workshop for early-stage social enterprises.

The CSE also teaches a modified version of Boost at Sanctum House, a home for women that have been victims of human trafficking. In this version of Boost we teach them the fundamentals of coming up with a business idea and making it a viable business opportunity. 

Learn how we engage the community


CSE faculty work with Detroit entrepreneurs daily. They bring these experiences and entrepreneurs into the classroom and Detroit Mercy students into their businesses to solve real-world problems. This practical application of business knowledge is just part of what sets Detroit Mercy apart from other universities. 

Detroit Mercy students also have the opportunity to, compete in business pitch competitions, earn micro-credentials, and more.

Learn how we impact academics


The Social Innovation Fund provides much needed early-stage capital to both students with promising business ideas that address social issues and Detroit social entrepreneurs that graduate from our Boost program.

Learn about the Social Innovation Fund

How You Can Make a Difference

  • Register as a social entrepreneur -  Contact our Center for more information or apply for our upcoming Boost Cohort.
  • Volunteer as a mentor - If you have expertise in functional areas of business and would like to work with our social entrepreneurs, we'd love to hear from you!
  • Support the Center with a donation - Transform Detroit's future! Support the CSE with your generous contribution. Make a lasting impact by designating a gift to the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Set the donation form's Designation field to "Center for Social Entrepreneurship."


Derrin Leppek

CSE Director Derrin LeppekDirector of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship Derrin Leppek previously served as a Managing Director of Place-Based Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Coach at Tech Town, where he initiated the SWOT City Program, and more recently as the Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Macomb Community College.

Advisory Board: Kathleen Dul Aznavorian, Roy Lamphier.

Ram Kesavan

Ram Kesavan HeadshotAffiliate of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship Ram Kesavan teaches in the areas of marketing and entrepreneurship. He has counseled over 300 small businesses, mostly minority owned. He has authored over 50 articles and a manuscript on international strategic marketing.

Boost program receives important financial support

CSE is proud to announce a recent $25,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank to support the Boost program. The Boost program provides basic business training to community residents seeking to launch and grow new enterprises that will make a positive impact on society. This type of external support clearly validates the good work that the Center undertakes within the community.

A Special Thank You to Our Partners

FT Foundation    Ford Community Corps Logo   Ford Motor Company Fund    Michigan Women Forward Logo   

Small Business Administration Logo  Mission Throttle Logo   Build Institute Logo   ioby Logo   Kiva Detroit Logo

ExcelerateAmerica logo    Accounting Aid Society LogoSCORE Logo