Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Value and Individual Decision Making

Yunus Social Business via Coursera


This course is part of a Specialization titled “Strategy and Finance for a Lifecycle of a Social Business”. It is an introduction to time value of money and will help the learner understand the basics of finance with the ultimate goal of valuing a company from a societal lens. The beauty of the modern decision-making framework is that it can be used to understand value creation at any level – the individual, the corporate or nonprofit entity level and from the point of view of society. The applications however become increasingly complex as your lens expands from the individual to the corporate/nonprofit to the global society. In this Specialization we will therefore focus on understanding the frameworks and tools that an individual and an entity (a startup or an established corporation, private or public) can use to understand value enhancing decision-making. There are two building blocks of decision making – time value of money and risk. In this first course, we will therefore start with an introduction to time value of money geared toward individual decision-making to both explore and measure the value of our decisions. In the second course, we will use the same framework to evaluate decision-making by entities – businesses – to create value. We will realize how the evaluating value from the lens of multiple stakeholders is inherently more complex. You are also encouraged to think from a societal standpoint because that, ultimately, is the difference between a social and a private business. The societal perspective is the most complex and market prices are typically not available for both the benefits and costs. Although introductory, this course will enable any learner to understand and analyze many decisions they regularly confront. It will also serve very useful if you are keen to hone your finance skills to make good personal decisions. The beauty of modern frameworks and tools of analysis is that they are logical and do not change depending on the purpose of business. However, to demonstrate social impact is very complex because prices for both the public good, and any harm created by our actions, are not available. It is also challenging to determine the incremental effect of a business on society at large. The combination of these issues makes all social impact and value specific to a business, making it even more important to use the same frameworks and tools developed in this Specialization while evaluating any/all impacts of a business.


  • Module 1: The Need for, and the Value of, Social Business and the Complexity and the Challenges of Creating Them
    • The Specialization is part of a program designed for an audience interested in working for, or creating, social businesses and anyone who wants to use modern frameworks and tools to understand how value is created for an individual, a company and social business. Since social businesses take on inherently more complex missions - by design, they are set up to address social issues - the task of understanding and evaluating opportunities aimed at addressing social issues requires a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of modern frameworks and tools. Arguably, all businesses try and impact society. This is the main reason why the Specialization has both analytical rigor and real-world applicability. My hope is that by the end of the Specialization we will be ready to evaluate, understand, and even create social businesses. This is a journey that will start with value to an individual and then gradually understand value created by regular businesses and, finally, tackle value creation by a social business. We will however not wait till the end of the Specialization to start thinking seriously about how social businesses are distinct from regular businesses. The good news is that you have already been exposed to a great course on social business – with world-known experts sharing their views, followed by an engaging and framework-based approach to consider how to identify a social problem and then develop an approach to addressing it using a multi-stakeholder approach. To motivate folks to understand the complexity of evaluating a social business, I will start by sharing some publicly available articles on what popular thinking is about social business, on how to measure social value and some real-world examples. I will do so gradually over the four courses, without testing, but with reflection exercises built in at the beginning and the end of each course. I have managed the Social Venture Fund (SVF) at the University of Michigan for over a decade now and we evaluate and invest in social businesses. I also recently launched the International Investment Fund (IIF) in India that evaluates, supports and invests in small- and medium-sized businesses. I will share cases written by me and my students related to this work, but please do not distribute them. The purpose of the reflection exercises is meant for you to gradually gain exposure to the complexities of social businesses and measuring social value. You are not expected to be able to value the businesses described in the cases, but to keep them in mind and reflect on the frameworks and tools you are introduced to and their applicability to decision-making in social businesses. While you will not be tested on specifics in the reflection portions of this Specialization, maintaining a personal journal on important issues throughout the Specialization will really help so you prepare for the challenging work on the project on a social business following successful completion of the Specialization. You will hopefully realize that the framework and tools provided in the Specialization will not only help you in any business, but also are the same for a social business. You will hopefully realize that, at the end of the day, it is all about intent and what you produce/provide and to whom and how. And what is readily measurable and verifiable may be one of the key differences between a regular and a truly social business – everything, eventually, is about quantity times price of what you have to offer. Most businesses focus on producing goods and services that have readily available markets and therefore prices. Perhaps the key difference in understanding and managing a social business versus a regular business is its focus on issues beyond an individual and a desire to provide goods and services that are not priced and therefore rewarded by free markets because they benefit society and cannot be captured by corporations. This, in turn, makes a social business all the more challenging to create and manage.
  • Module 2: Overview of Specialization & Course
    • Now that you have been exposed to many thoughtful and detailed discussions of social business and examples of the same you are hopefully ready to get started with the Specialization. This module contains detailed videos and syllabi of both the Specialization and the first course. This Specialization has been designed to enable you to learn and apply the powerful tools of modern finance to personal, corporate and social businesses. In fact, this frameworks and tools can be applied to decision-making in any context, including nonprofit and governmental initiatives to tackle the simplest to most challenging issues we confront individually or collectively. The courses within progress linearly and build on each other and it is important for you to get an understanding of why this Specialization may be relevant to any context. Please review the videos and syllabi as they will give you a sense of the Specialization and how this specific course fits within. My teaching style and philosophy are also presented to you (hopefully) in sufficient detail. I believe education is the key to addressing the challenges that we face across the globe and I have prepared a video expressing my passion and belief in education. Most importantly, all this content is meant to give you enough information to enable you to make a decision about whether you want to take this Specialization, or this course by itself. To make sure you have the social lens in mind, we have also created a course that focuses on social business that you must take before this Specialization. This will hopefully make you think about what a social business looks like and, importantly, how it differs from standard business. A deeper realization of this can only occur when you are able to recognize how value is created by regular businesses. This will be a slow process and will start happening after the second course and hopefully the understanding will deepen by the end of this Specialization so that you are ready to work on a social business.
  • Module 3: Time Value of Money - Some Terminology
    • Since the frameworks and tools created in the multidisciplinary field of modern business education apply to any context, we will devote the entire first course to understanding the building block of time value of money (TVM) using applications that involve individual decision making. This is also the simplest context to learn modern frameworks and tools because it is easiest one - with one person's perspective dominating value creation. In this first module, we introduce the framework of time value of money (TVM) in a carefully structured way, with a focus on Future Value using relatively simple applications. As mentioned in the Syllabus, all concepts are introduced using examples and you are strongly encouraged to pause the videos and do every problem.
  • Module 4: Time Value of Money - Simple Applications
    • In this module, we build on the content presented in the previous module and move to the much more often used concept of Present Value. We again use simple examples, focusing on situations we confront on a daily basis. All concepts are introduced using examples that you need to do yourself to stay on top of the concepts. The second week also provides you an opportunity to test your knowledge up to this point with a required submission of the first graded assignment.
  • Module 5: Time Value of Money - Annuities
    • During this module, we will progress to more complex concepts and applications of finance.
  • Module 6: Time Value of Money - Complex Applications
    • This module ends the course with relatively complex applications of finance. We spend a lot of time on understanding how borrowing and lending really works. You will also get an opportunity to test your understanding of the basic principles of time value of money by submitting the second assignment for the course. You will also learn how top use Excel and show your competence in doing so.

Taught by

Suresh K. Krishna and Gautam Kaul


Start your review of Value and Individual Decision Making

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.