What business entrepreneurs are to the economy, social entrepreneurs are to social change. They are the driven, creative individuals who question the status quo, exploit new opportunities, refuse to give up–and remake the world for the better. David Bornstein tells the awesome stories of these remarkable individuals of which many are in the United States, others in countries from Brazil to Hungary, providing an In Search of Excellence for the social sector. In America, one man, J.B. Schramm, has helped thousands of low-income high school students get into college. In South Africa, one woman, Veronica Khosa, developed a home-based care model for AIDS patients that changed government health policy. In Brazil, Fabio Rosa helped bring electricity to hundreds of thousands of remote rural residents. Another American, James Grant, is credited with saving 25 million lives by leading and “marketing” a global campaign for immunization. Yet another, Bill Drayton, created a pioneering foundation, Ashoka, that has funded and supported these social entrepreneurs and over a thousand like them, leveraging the power of their ideas across the globe. These extraordinary stories highlight a massive transformation that is going largely unreported by the media, around the world. The fastest-growing segment of society is the nonprofit sector, as millions of ordinary people,social entrepreneurs are increasingly stepping in to solve the problems where governments and bureaucracies have failed. How to Change the World shows, as its title suggests, that with determination and innovation, even a single person can make a surprising difference. For anyone seeking to make a positive mark on the world, this will be both an inspiring and an invaluable book. It will change the way you see the world.
Entrepreneurs are essential drivers of innovation and progress. In the business world, they act as engines of growth, harnessing opportunity and innovation to fuel economic advancement. Social entrepreneurs act similarly, tapping inspiration and creativity, courage and fortitude, to seize opportunities that challenge and forever change established, but fundamentally inequitable systems. Distinct from a business entrepreneur who sees value in the creation of new markets, the social entrepreneur aims for value in the form of transformational change that will benefit disadvantaged communities and ultimately society at large. Social entrepreneurs pioneer innovative and systemic approaches for meeting the needs of the marginalized, the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised populations that lack the financial means or political clout to achieve lasting benefit on their own. Throughout history, such individuals have introduced solutions to seemingly intractable social problems, fundamentally improving the lives of countless individuals by changing the way critical systems operate. Florence Nightingale and Maria Montessori offer two prominent historical examples. Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a more recent example. He began offering micro loans to impoverished people in Bangladesh in 1976, thereby empowering them to become economically self-sufficient and proving the micro credit model that has now been replicated around the world. While social entrepreneurship isn’t a new concept, it has gained renewed currency in a world characterized by a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. With this heightened visibility, social entrepreneurs at the forefront of the movement are distinguishing themselves from other social venture players in terms of ultimate impact. One example is social entrepreneur Bunker Roy, who created the Barefoot College in rural communities in India to train illiterate and semiliterate men and women, whose lack of educational qualifications keeps them mired in poverty. Today Barefoot College graduates include teachers, health workers and architects who are improving communities across India, including 450 "barefoot" engineers who have installed and maintain solar-electrification systems in 547 villages that reach nearly 100,000 people.
Another example is Ann Cotton, who started the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in 1993 to achieve the simple goal of ensuring an education for young girls in Africa whose families cannot afford school fees. By establishing a sustainable model that provides community support for girls to go to school, start businesses and return to their communities as leaders, CAMFED has broken the cycle of poverty for hundreds of thousands of young women in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Zambia and Tanzania. Since 1993, 645, 400 children have benefited from Camfed’s education program across a network of 2,798 Schools. 5,132 young women have received business training and start-up grants to establish their own rural enterprises. 1,067 young women have been trained as community health activists; in 2008 alone, they reached 79, 998 children and young people with vital health information. These and other social entrepreneurs are solution-minded pragmatists who are not afraid to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. They recognize the extraordinary potential in the billions of poor people who inhabit the planet, and they are absolutely committed to helping them use their talents and abilities to achieve their potential. Social entrepreneurs use inspiration, creativity, courage, fortitude and, most importantly, direct action, to create a new reality, a new equilibrium that results in enduring social benefit and a better future for everyone. A social entrepreneur is an entrepreneur who works to increase social capital, often by founding humanitarian organizations.
Historical examples of leading social entrepreneurs
- Susan B. Anthony (U.S.) - Fought for women's rights in the United States, including the right to control property, and helped spearhead adoption of the 19th amendment.
- Vinoba Bhave (India) - Founder and leader of the Land Gift Movement, he caused the redistribution of more than 7,000,000 acres (28,000 km²) of land to aid India's untouchables and landless. Mahatma Gandhi described him as his mentor.
- David Brower (U.S.) - Environmentalist and conservationist, he served as the Sierra Club's first executive director and built it into a worldwide network for environmental issues. He also founded Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and The Earth Island Institute.
- Akhtar Hameed Khan (Pakistan) - Founder of grassroots movement for rural communities Comilla Model, and low-cost sanitation programmes (Orangi Pilot Project) for squatter settlements.
- Maria Montessori (Italy) - Developed the Montessori approach to early childhood education.
- John Muir (U.S.) - Naturalist and conservationist, he established the National Park System and helped found The Sierra Club.
- Florence Nightingale (UK) - Founder of modern nursing, she established the first school for nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions.
- Frederick Law Olmsted (U.S.) - Creator of major urban parks, including Rock Creek Park in Washington DC, Central Park in NYC, and Mount Royal Park in Montreal, he is generally considered to have developed the profession of landscape architecture in America.
- Gifford Pinchot (U.S.) - Champion of the forest as a multiple use environment, he helped found the Yale School of Forestry and created the U.S. Forest Service, serving as its first chief.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (Germany) - Pioneer of the rural bond of association as a substitute for collateral in microfinance, and a principal founder of the credit union and cooperative bank sectors that now form a major segment of the European banking system.
- Margaret Sanger (U.S.) - Founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she led the movement for family planning efforts around the world.
- John Woolman (U.S.) - Led U.S. Quakers to voluntarily emancipate all their slaves between 1758 and 1800, his work also influenced the British Society of Friends, a major force behind the British decision to ban slaveholding. Quakers, of course, became a major force in the U.S. abolitionist movement as well as a key part of the infrastructure of the Underground Railroad.
Present day leading social entrepreneurs
- Ibrahim Abouleish (Egypt) - Founder of SEKEM, a biodynamic agricltural corporation, alternative medicine, and educational center located outside of Cairo.
- Ela Bhatt (India) - Founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and the SEWA Cooperative Bank in Gujarat.
- Nicholas Chan (Singapore) - Co-Founder of Project:Senso Ltd, the Pledge a Book movement and active advocate for Asian entrepreneurs in incorporating volunteerism and social enterprise into their lives and businesses.
- Bill Drayton (U.S.) - Founded Ashoka, Youth Venture, and Get America Working!
- Marian Wright Edelman (U.S.) - Founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) and advocate for disadvantaged Americans and children.
- Dr. Abraham M. George (India) - Founder of The George Foundation (TGF).
- Alan Khazei (U.S.) - Co-Founder of City Year, a leading national service program.
- Dr. Verghese Kurien (India) - Founder of the AMUL Dairy Project.
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (India) - Founded Art of Living Foundation and International Association for Human Values.
- Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh) - Founder of micro credit and the Grameen Bank. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Silent Impact
Like many young tourists from Europe, Sebastien Marot arrived in Cambodia in the early 1990s with a backpack and a dream of continuing on to find work in Tokyo, Japan. What he found when he arrived in Phnom Penh altered the direction of his life, and his subsequent work as a social entrepreneur has improved life for hundreds of thousands of children and family members. The capitol city of Cambodia, ravaged by years of conflict, revealed to Sebastien a community with little internal structure, thousands of children struggling daily for survival, and seemingly ineffective efforts by foreign NGOs to help. While exiting a restaurant one night, Sebastien was struck by the contrast of a shiny black Mercedes passing a group of homeless children who slept on flattened cardboard boxes at the edge of the road. Compelled to help, he began bringing food to these street children. But after several days of this, he discovered he was one of many tourists feeding street children and effectively keeping them well fed and on the streets. With support from two traveling companions, he decided to stay in Cambodia for several months to create a drop-in center for children with services to bring them in from the streets. Nearly 15 years later, his drop-in center – now run by local Cambodians within the community – is part of Friends International, the network Sebastian created to establish similar support systems for displaced children in countries like Laos, Thailand, Burma, and Indonesia. Sebastien’s network provides basic education, vocational training, work in for-profit businesses, and many other services to help homeless children and young adults who want to create new opportunities for themselves. In addition, his partnerships with local governments and other NGOs have formed an effective safety net for those at risk of drug addiction, human trafficking and other abuses. In 2007, the Skoll Foundation in the United States became another in a list of organizations to recognize Sebastien’s work. The Skoll Foundation is a leading proponent globally of social entrepreneurs. These are people who demonstrate the leadership and ability to take an idea beyond the scale of one problem in one location. Like any other entrepreneur, they must be willing to take risks and build something new, and ultimately create a model for a social venture that can be replicated to serve many communities. There is a diversity of social entrepreneurs across Asia working on issues large and small in every country of Asia. They are bringing innovation and commitment to a multitude of social issues and creating new systems that can be used to have a global impact. For example:
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, a 2008 Skoll winner, has created a new model for combating human trafficking in the Philippines. To date her organization, the Visayan Forum Foundation, is responsible for rescuing over 30,000 girls and boys in a country ideal for traffickers looking for ports that ship people to Korea, Thailand, Singapore, China and elsewhere. Originally a political prisoner during the Marcos regime, Cecilia was locked up with her husband and children until the Marcos family was overthrown. She thought she knew what hardship was, but says she quickly realized that the enslavement of Filipino girls and boys for sex and labor was far worse than anything she and her family had endured. Cecilia has taken a business approach to the problem of human trafficking: Her goal is to block all trade routes and make the business of trafficking in the Philippines cost prohibitive.
- Quote paper
- Dr. Osemeka Anthony (Author), 2009, How to change your world, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/158333