General FAQ

What is Social Business Creation and what are its vision and mission?

Organized by HEC Montréal, Canada, with the support of Yunus Centre founded by Nobel laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Social Business Creation (SBC) is an international competition and a platform to train participants on how to use market mechanisms to solve social challenges.

SBC vision is to be the global leader in social entrepreneurship education.

SBC mission is to educate business people to be socially responsible. Specifically, SBC aimes to:

  1. Change the mindset of students towards the norm that “profitability and positive social impacts should go hand-in-hand and thus social business is the way to do business”;
  2. Propagate the concept of social business and make students become ambassadors for its promotion;
  3. Enable and teach students to become better entrepreneurs with a sense of higher purpose and use their knowledge for the sake of social contributions via their business activities;
  4. Enable students to be successful in their entrepreneurial development.
What type of business ideas is Social Business Creation (SBC) looking for?

Social Business Creation competition looks for ideas in which the business has potential to create social impacts through its business activities (i.e., production, supply chain management, service to customers, etc.). 

What form of business is accepted in the competition? Does SBC accept not-for-profit organisations, cooperatives, etc.?

The most important criterion is the business model, not the legal status. Social Business Creation will guide you in creating a business that uses market mechanisms to solve social challenges and will help you in developing co-creation strategies to enhance your effectiveness in making social impacts and profits . You can choose to register your business in any form that gives you the most advantages and allows you to make good profits while creating positive social impacts. 

Who can enter the competition?

Social Business Creation competition is open to students at all levels (undergraduate and postgraduate) in all programs (including long-term, short-term, full-time, and part-time programs) and from all disciplines. 

Non-student participants are encouraged to join, as long as at least one of the team members is a registered student at a higher education institution at the time of registration. The students may graduate before the end of the competition. 

If the team or members of the team already participated in past editions of SBC, is it possible to re-enter the competition?

Yes. You can re-enter the competition as a member of a new project. If you re-enter the competition with the same business idea as the one you used in a previous edition, all work done in the prior edition is not taken into consideration. Your project will be evaluated as a new entry, and we only consider the results you obtain during the current competition period.  

Can I be a member of more than one team in the same edition?


Can I coach more than one team in the same edition?

Yes, as long as the teams accept it. 

How can this competition be considered as a curriculum course?

Social Business Creation competition is structured as a course that provides experiential learning and uses a gamification approach to enhance students’ learning experience. SBC’s evaluation form gives scores with detailed feedback according to the evaluation criteria of each round. The evaluation sheet may serve as course grade for the participants. 

Participating students will learn how to use market mechanisms to address social challenges, leverage on a collective social mindset, collaborate with various stakeholders, and develop their business idea into a real business. This competition offers a win-win platform that allows for bottom-up development. 

The number of study hours required from participating students in the first two rounds is equivalent to what is required from a 3-credit course. Therefore, this competition can be integrated into your curriculum, and participating students can be awarded course credits according to their institution’s policy. 


What is the registration process?

You will fill out an online application form at

What you will need to provide

Participating teams applications:

  • Project name & location
  • Team composition:
    • Name of team members (exactly as to be printed on SBC certificates)
    • Education background
    • Affiliation (if the member is currently a student, enter the name of the program and university that the member is attending. If the member is not a student, enter the name of the organization in which the member is working)
    • Country
    • Role in the team
    • Email
  • If a member of the team request financial and other special support he should include a letter explaining the type of support requested and the reasons why SBC should grant this member the requested support. SBC will consider the request and communicate the results with that member at the time SBC sends the team the decision letter with regards to the application to enter the competition.
  • Closeup photos of all your team members
  • Proof of student status of the members who are students (at least one member of the team must be a student at the time of the application)
  • Social challenge description: in maximum 200 words, describe your target social challenge and motivations to address this challenge.
  • Proposed solution: in maximum 200 words, describe how YOUR TEAM plans to address the target social challenge.
  • Declaration of contribution to UN sustainable goals: declare how the project contributes to at least one of the 17 sustainable development goals identified by the United Nations and briefly explain how it will be done (in 1 or 2 sentences for each goal). Check the United Nations’s web site for detailed information about the goals.

Institutionnal applications:

    • Total number of participants nominated by the institution
    • Institution’s representative:
      • Full name
      • Position
      • Representation capacity (i.e., education module, program, department, institute, center, etc.)
      • Email
      • Phone
      • Postal address
    • List of teams nominated by the institution and summary of the teams’ profiles:
      • Project name
      • Coach’s full name (if the team has more than one coach, enter the name of the head coach only)
      • Coach’s email
      • UN Goals (write the number of the UN goals to which the project intends to contribute)
      • One-line description of the project
      • Institutional support (indicate the type of support the project receives from the institution (i.e., course credit, financial support, etc.). If the project does not receive any formal support from the institution, write “NONE”).

Besides filling in the instititional application form, the institutions must require their nominated teams to complete the forms for participants. SBC selection is done on a rolling basis, and teams will receive an SBC decision letter within 10 working days after the organizers receive the completed application form.

How do I provide Proof of student status?

At least one of your team members must be a student at the time of registration.  

A copy of your current transcript or course registration from your university or a letter from your university’s registrar office certifying your current student status will be sufficient. We do not accept images of student cards or a letter from your teacher as proof.  

How and when do I know if my team is admitted to the competition?

You will receive your admission status within 10 working days following the date you submit your complete application package. 

Do I have to pay any fee to participate?

There is no fee to apply. 

Admitted participants do not have to pay any tuition fee to receive SBC training both online and in Montreal as long as their team continues with the competition (i.e. passing the requirements of each round to advance to the next). 

Every participant needs to pay a one-time non-refundable administration fee to enter the competition. The administration fee will need to be paid within 10 days of receiving SBC admission letter. 

If I am awarded a scholarship or financial assistance from SBC, how do I receive the money?

If you are awarded an admission scholarship/financial assistance, the SBC administration fee will be deducted from the total amount first, and the rest will be sent to you by cheque or bank transfer. Detailed explanation of the procedure will be provided in the award letter. 

Will I get refunded the administration fee if I quit?

No. The registration fee is non-refundable.  

Can my team recruit new team members after we’ve already sent in our registration application or even during the competition period?

It is normal that team composition changes during the competition. You can add new members at any time before your presentation in the Semi-final Round. 

Each new member has to pay the administration fee to be permitted to follow SBC training, make presentations, join in for Q&A with the team, and receive certificates and prizes (if applicable).  

Please note that you will get a participation certificate only for the round(s) that you participate in.  

Round 1 and Round 2

How do I follow SBC online training?

The online materials are provided on HEC Montreal’s platform called Zone CoursYou can complete each module one at a time or jump between modules and study at your own pace. 

If you have questions or need an explanation about the materials, send an email to with the Subject “Question about Module X – Section Y” (where X and Y are respectively the number codes of the module and section you are studying). 

Must all team members follow the online course?

We consider your whole team as one unit. Your learning is reflected in the team’s learning, not individual learning.  We evaluate your performance based on the whole team’s work, not the work done by each individual. 

You can choose who among your team members, how and when to follow the online course. We do not check attendance for your online course participation. However, it is impossible to meet each round’s challenge requirements if your team does not follow the course attentively.


It is normal that team composition changes during the competition. If the team leader changes, you must send SBC a letter signed by all members to inform SBC of the change.  

Can we change our team leader?

It is normal that team composition changes during the competition. If the team leader changes, you must send SBC a letter signed by all members to inform SBC of the change.  

What if a team member quits?

It is normal that team composition changes during the competition. It does not affect the project’s status in the competition as long as at least one member stays with the project from the beginning to the end of the competition 

What do I do if I want to remove a member of my team?

If you want to remove a team member for any reason, the whole team needs to agree on the exclusion of the team member.  

Please note that the work submitted for each round must include a list of all team members and coaches of that round, according to the SBC template. SBC provides participation certificates to the people on this list only. 

How do I know that SBC received our team’s submission for Round 1 and Round 2?

Your team leader will receive a reply to your submission within 1 working day. You can view a copy of your team’s submissions, as well as judge’s feedback for every round, on the SBC platform called ZoneCours that is dedicated to your team. You will be given access to this platform at the time of your registration.  

If you do not get our confirmation and if you cannot view your documents in your team’s ZoneCours platform, it means that we do not receive your submission. We are not responsible for your technical problems.  

What happens if my team submits our work after the deadline?

Unless you have an official agreement with SBC, your team will be automatically disqualified if SBC does not receive your submission by the deadline.  

We strongly suggest that you submit your work at least one day before the deadline and keep SBC confirmation as proof of submission. 

What if my team has submitted our work but does not receive SBC confirmation?

We will send your team leader a confirmation within 24 hours after receiving your submission. If you do not get our confirmation, it means that we have not received your submission. We are not responsible for your technical problems.  

We strongly suggest that you submit your work early to test the ZoneCours platform. You can always resubmit your work if you submit it before the final week of each round. Only submissions within the last week of each round are considered final, and no modification is allowed after the submission 

If you experience technical difficulties during your submission process, you need to communicate with us at immediately so that we can provide you with assistance. We will respond within 24 hours after receiving your request.  

Can we change our work after submitting it for each round?

All submissions within the last week of each round are considered final, and no modification is allowed after the submission. They will be forwarded as they were submitted to SBC judges.  

If you submit your work earlier, you can modify it and have SBC evaluate your revised submission as long as the revision is submitted within the last week of each round. If you do not wish to modify it, we will consider the last one as your final submission for that round. 

What score must our team obtain to pass each round?

Participants must complete the work required of each round to be eligible for participation in the next round. Teams must obtain a minimum of 30 points on a 100-point scale to pass. Teams will be notified 15 days after submission if they are selected to continue on to the next roundDetailed feedback will be provided 30 days after the submission deadline of each round. 

Important note: Winning a prize in a round does not guarantee a chance of getting a prize in the next round. By the same token, not winning a prize in a round does not preclude a chance of getting a prize in the next round. This reflects the true evolving process of new venture creation. 

How does SBC provide coaching during the competition?

Each team will receive on ZoneCours detailed feedback on their submission documents 30 days after the round’s deadline. Teams will be notified 15 days after submission if they are selected to continue on to the next round.  

During the Training Week at HEC Montréal, teams will have two one-on-one sessions with SBC coaches before the final presentations.  You will be given a video recording of these two private sessions.  

Throughout the competition, we provide on-demand support by responding to your questions via  

Who are the Judges?

We invite prestigious business leaders and professors as well as inspirational and experienced social venture owners to be our judges. The profiles of our judges are available at 

If you would like to participate in SBC competition as a judge, please email your expression of interest along with your CV and full contact information. If your profile matches our needs, we will include you in our judge panel. 

We encourage you to nominate qualified people to SBC judge panel. Please email your nominee’s contact information and a short description of the nominee’s background. We will follow up with the nominated candidate. 

What happens if we realise that we need to change our products/services, or even our business concept during the competition? Is it possible?

We expect you to take into account our judges and coaches’ comments and thus expect you to change your project in accordance with their suggestionsAny scale and scope of change are accepted as long as the change is aimed at enabling you to continue pursuing your social mission.

Training Week and Semi-Final and Final Rounds

Who can participate in the Training Week in Montreal?

If you are a member of the teams that pass Round 2, you are automatically qualified to participate in the Training Week in Montreal. You must confirm your participation by July 31 so that SBC can include you in the program. If you confirm later, your participation is subject to seat availability, and SBC cannot guarantee your place.  

Other people can also participate in the Training Week in Montreal. Acceptance is based on seat availability, so we strongly encourage you to apply as early as possible. The application for the Training Week is open from March 31 to September 21.  

What does the Training Week in Montreal look like?

SBC pedagogy adapts to the learning needs of the participants and commits to continual improvement. Therefore, every edition is different and better than the previous oneThe program for 2020 will be available by the end of March 2020.  For an idea of what the training week looks like, you can consult SBC 2019 program booklet here (   

Besides the training workshops and activities, HEC Montréal provides participants of the Training Week with lunch and refreshments on the official first day, internet access, a co-working space throughout the week, and closing cocktail party.  

What happens if I cannot come to Montreal for Round 3? Am I eliminated?

In general, if you do not come to Montreal for the Training Week and final presentations, you will not receive the Round 3 participation certificate (or share your team’s prizes if your team wins). But there are exceptions: 

a. If you cannot come to Montreal because of visa denial (proof required), but your team members participate in Round 3, your status in the competition is not affected. You will receive your Round 3 participation certificate and your share of the prizes if your team wins. 

b. If none of your team members can come to Montreal due to visa denial, our partner in your country will help you participate in Round 3 via teleconferencing. Members with visa denial proof will receive their Round 3 participation certificates and their share of the prizes (if their team wins)If SBC does not have a partner in your country, we will work with you to arrange a solution. 

Do all members present in Montreal for Round 3 have to attend all of SBC's planned activities?

At least one of your team members must participate in the the Training Week in Montreal to ensure that your project is eligible for final presentations.  

Only members that are present on time at the final presentations and check in for at least one of the training sessions will be granted the Round 3 participation certificate. 

What happens if my team does not send the Semi-final and Final presentation on time?

Your team will be disqualified. 

How much does it cost to participate in the Training Week in Montreal?

Global finalists (i.e., members of the teams that pass Round 2) receive a tuition waiver for this training, so they do not have to pay any fee. 

People who are not invited to compete in Round 3 can still participate in the Training Week in Montreal, however they must pay half of the tuition fee of a 3-credit course: CAD $462.26 for Quebec residents, CAD $1,001.87 for non-Quebec Canadian residents, and CAD $1,949.96 for international students (see for more information).   

All participants are responsible for their own travel and personal expenses.  

What travel and personal expenses can be expected to participate in SBC Training Week in Montreal?

All participants are responsible for their own travel and personal expenses (flights, insurance, travel, food, etc.). These expenses vary according to where you are coming from and your living standards. We suggest that you consult the following references: 

  • Canadian Visa: Please apply for your travel visa as soon as you receive our invitation to Round 3 as the process may take a long time, depending on each person’s circumstances and place of application. Please check for detailed information.  
  • Accommodation: Accommodation is not included, and HEC Montréal does not have any accommodations on campus. However, HEC Montréal is conveniently located close to several metro stations and bus stops, therefore it is possible to find appropriate accommodations for a wide range of budgets. We want to give participants complete freedom in their travel arrangements and thus do not have any partnership with local hotels. The easiest way to find affordable accommodation in Montreal is to use where you can find different types of accommodations ranging from approximately CAD $25/night – CA$200/night. A full apartment rental may be better than hotel rooms as they are usually less expensive and can accommodate all team members at the same time in one location 
  • Local travel: Montreal is very easily accessible with public transportation. You can buy a weekly OPUS card pass (for metro and buses) for CAD $26.75 (more information is available at  
  • Food: Montreal is known for its great food and various cuisine options for every budgetYou will be responsible for your food arrangements during the week, however we will provide one lunch on the first official day of Training Week in Montreal as this will be a whole day session.  

Training-of-Trainers program

Who can participate in the Training-of-Trainers program?

Training-of-Trainers (ToT) is a program for educators and business professionals who wish to develop their expertise in social entrepreneurship. ToT is offered in conjunction to Social Business Creation competition Training Week in Montreal 

The program is designed to (1) enable university professors and business professionals to become more effective coaches, and (2) provide essential knowledge and tools in order to create programs that support social entrepreneurship development.   

People who desire to achieve one or both of these goals are encouraged to apply. Admission to the Training-of-Trainers program is based on the applicant’s motivation to promote social entrepreneurship and potential to create social changes 

The application for ToT is open from March 31 to September 21. Due to limited seat availability, you should apply as early as possible  

How much does it cost to participate in the Training-of-Trainers program?

SBC provides full subsidies for a number of Training-of-Trainers educators and business professionals sent by SBC’s partner universities according to the level of collaboration between SBC and these institutions (i.e., one person at level 1, five people at level 2, and ten people at level 3). Other Training-ofTrainers participants recommended by these institutions (that are not provided with full subsidies) can apply for a partial subsidy of up to 75% of the total fee. All other ToT applicants must pay the full fee of CAD $4,000.00 per person. 

To become SBC partner university, please contact Prof. Mai Thai at for more information. 

All Training-of-Trainers participants are responsible for their own travel and personal expenses during the training in Montreal.