A new generation of social entrepreneurs - individuals who combine creativity, real-world savvy and extraordinary determination - are quietly solving some of the world's most pressing problems. This new wave of bold innovators - from teachers to doctors, from engineers to journalists - are demonstrating that an individual with a powerful idea and an intense drive to succeed can bring positive changes to the lives of millions.
Award-winning journalist David Bornstein investigates this emerging phenomenon in his new book How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (Penguin Books, India, 2005, Rs 395). Anyone who seeks a change in career, worldview, or wants to transform the world itself will find it both an inspiring read and an invaluable handbook.
|At a ceremony held at the Infosys campus in Bangalore, Infosys Technologies chairman and chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy launched the book's India edition. Infosys and the Ashoka Foundation jointly hosted the event. |
Speaking at the occasion, Murthy said: "The book demonstrates how the 'citizen's sector' plays an active role in providing leadership, energy and innovation, giving thrust to the social entrepreneurs who confront and correct the world's problems… It tells many inspirational stories from across the world of how these intrepid, determined entrepreneurs have left their mark, discusses the requisite qualities of a social entrepreneur and the changes that need to be made to make this a viable career. I believe that this form of globalising, by building a worldwide community of social and business entrepreneurs, will facilitate a marketplace of the best ideas and practices that benefit all people."
Ashoka's senior vice president Carol Grodzins said: "Ashoka's vision is that everyone's a change maker. The book analyses people who we call social entrepreneurs. We hope that this book will reach every board room, every corporate office, every parliamentarian and every business school." Ashoka is a global organisation that pioneered the concept of social entrepreneurship.
Javed Abidi, the prime mover of the Disability Act, 1995, founder of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People and an Ashoka fellow said: "Social entrepreneurs are a bunch of people who don't take 'no' for an answer. But people with new ideas are often lonely. Ashoka helps you along the way."
What business entrepreneurs are to the economy, social entrepreneurs are to social change. They are creative, driven individuals who question the status quo, exploit new opportunities and transform visions into reality - demonstrating newer and better ways to attack problems and implementing solutions on a major scale.
An Indian who created a disability movement to make legislative rights and economic opportunities a reality for 60 million disabled Indians… a South African nurse who designed a new model for providing care for AIDS patients that has revolutionised government health policy...a Brazilian engineer who devised an ingenious system to deliver low-cost, environmentally-sound energy to hundreds of thousands of poor farmers; How to Change the World shows ordinary people who are succeeding in solving the world's most critical social problems. It spans the globe telling fascinating stories of how these social entrepreneurs overcame opposition and indifference, succeeding beyond all odds.
Bornstein profiles nine remarkable men and women. There is James Grant, an American credited with saving the lives of 25 million children by orchestrating and 'marketing' a global campaign for immunisation. Jeroo Billimoria has spread a child-protection network across India, rescuing tens of thousands of children from abuse, injury and neglect. Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, has identified and supported 1,500 social entrepreneurs, leveraging the power of their ideas across the globe.
These extraordinary stories highlight a massive transformation that is going largely unreported. Worldwide, the fastest-growing segment of the economy is the non-profit sector. While everybody has heard about the growth of 'dotcoms', millions have still not heard the big story: the worldwide explosion of 'dot-orgs'. Millions of ordinary people are stepping in to solve problems that governments and bureaucracies have failed to address. How to Change the World shows that with determination and innovation, even a single person can make a difference.
David Bornstein is a journalist who specialises in writing about social innovation. His first book, The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank, was selected as a finalist for the New York Public Library Book Award for excellence in journalism. His articles have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times, and he co-wrote the PBS documentary To Our Credit. He lives in New York City.
Ashoka supports social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to solve society's most pressing social and environmental problems. Since Bill Drayton founded Ashoka in India in 1980, the organisation has invested in more than 1,500 Ashoka fellows in 53 countries around the world. Ashoka India has 280 fellows and through a partnership with the American India Foundation, continues to invest in social entrepreneurs. Fellows are elected to a global fellowship, receive financial support and other strategic services. Ashoka's work is supported by individuals, volunteer chapters and leading business entrepreneurs.
- Ashwin Tombat
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