Case Studies


Case Studies are the core of the SVI model, where the greatest learning happens.

In the Case Study session, an entrepreneur presents a specific, strategic business challenge. A panel of experts and retreat participants alike offer advice based on their experience and expertise. Each Case Study receives an hour of focused problem solving.

It's a powerful way for the entire group to work together and gain a wealth of practical ideas to deal with the challenges of running a social enterprise.

The Case Study was by far the most useful, motivating and worthwhile experience of the retreat for me. The questions and insight of the panelists and other attendees was invaluable and will absolutely change the way I manage 5 for Fairness moving forward. If you are planning to attend the retreat, take my advice and run, do not walk, to the Case Study application and fill it out. If you’re lucky enough to be picked, you are in for the experience of a lifetime.
— Anna McDonnell, 5 for Fairness

Case Study Format

  1. The facilitator introduces the session and reviews the ground rules. (5 minutes)
  2. The presenting entrepreneur introduces the enterprise and the challenge. (15 minutes)
  3. Panelists ask clarifying questions. (10 minutes)
  4. The audience asks clarifying questions. (10 minutes)
  5. Panelists give feedback, draw out universal tools and lessons and give constructive suggestions. (15 minutes)
  6. Audience gives feedback. (10 minutes)
  7. Then presenter is given a chance to speak about experience. (5 minutes)

Case Study Guidelines

Confidentiality: Everything shared during the case study is 100% confidential.

Honesty: We encourage the presenting entrepreneur and respondents to be as honest and direct as possible.

Brevity: In order to keep the session as interactive as possible, we encourage presenters and audience members to keep their comments brief.

Case Study Topics

The sessions usually focus on a challenge that the entrepreneur is facing in one of these four theme areas:

  • Communicating Your Story: Overcoming Sales & Marketing Challenges
  • Managing Organizational Change: Human Resources and Management Transitions
  • Strategic Growth: Taking the Next Step
  • Business Financing: Raising Equity and Debt Capital

Call for Case Studies

In selecting Case Study presenters, we look for several key components:

  • organizations (for-profit or nonprofit) at various stages of growth
  • well-framed and defined problem statements
  • opportunities to draw larger lessons for the whole group

Once you've applied to attend, please submit your Case Study application by April 24 (extended deadline).

[I came away with] validation of the business idea and a clearer idea for a path to growth.
— Donna Williams, Field Goods