Problem Statement

What is the problem you have identified?

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

Albert Einstein

Professor Sarah Soule explains the goal of the problem statement block, and poses questions for you to consider as you think through strategic options for your venture.  She will discuss the example of Equal Opportunity Schools, a national nonprofit organization with both earned income and philanthropic support. (1:52) 

Design Prompts

  • How large is it? 
  • How many people are affected? 
  •  In what geographies? 
  • Are all layers of society affected equally? 
  • What external factors surround the problem and might influence your strategy and operations, e.g., the economy, technology, political conditions, social conditions, etc.?

Try to be concise in your description to focus your team’s attention.

For-profit example


Problem statement: Over two billion people in the world lack reliable access to electricity

d.light sells solar energy solutions to populations without electricity in 60+ nations. See project description and its Impact BMC

Nonprofit example

Equal Opportunity Schools

Problem statement: In the US, at least 640K low-income and minority students miss out on AP/IB courses every year, which negatively impacts their likelihood of going to college.

Equal Opportunity Schools helps minority and low-income high school students succeed in AP and IB courses. See project description and its Impact BMC