Social Entrepreneurs and The Power of New Ideas
According to journalist David Bornstein, social entrepreneurs are people with powerful ideas to improve other people's lives who have implemented these ideas across cities, countries and, in some cases, the world. These are the doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, journalists and parents who solve social problems on a large scale and have a profound effect on society. Bornstein points out that they are usually not famous, and are usually not politicians. They are the people who create a transformative force that addresses major problems in the pursuit of a vision, and they will not give up until they have spread their ideas as far as possible.
How to Change the World provides a close look at numerous people from several countries - including the United States, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Hungary, India and Bangladesh - who have advanced systemic change and shifted behavior patterns and perceptions. They have ideas for attacking problems, Bornstein points out, and are unwilling to rest until they have spread their ideas throughout society.
Solving Challenging Problems
Bornstein has chronicled the achievements of many of these people in solving problems that challenge all societies around the globe: inadequate education and health systems, environmental threats, declining trust in political institutions, entrenched poverty, high crime rates, etc. He also demonstrates how their ideas can help businesspeople and nonprofit managers see how social entrepreneurs have served large "markets" with limited resources to solve problems and make a positive change. The creative people Bornstein describes possess the determination and will to propel the innovation that society needs to tackle its toughest problems. He points out that these lessons can be applied across all types of organizations and industries.
Bornstein also describes the recent growth of what he calls the "citizen" sector - the nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that make up the framework of the social and economic supports, thus multiplying the number and the effectiveness of the world's social entrepreneurs. According to business guru Peter Drucker, this sector is America's leading growth industry.
Bornstein explains that by "sharpening the role of government, shifting practices and attitudes in business and opening up waves of opportunity for people to apply their talents in new, positive ways, the emerging citizen sector is reorganizing the way the work of society gets done."
One of the social entrepreneurs Bornstein profiles is Gloria de Souza, a 45-year-old elementary school teacher in Bombay whose dream in 1981 was to transform education across India. Over her 20 years of teaching experience, she was pained by the rote learning taking place in her school that she felt was holding back her students. By adapting her teaching ideas to India's specific circumstances and founding an organization to build a team to spread her ideas -with the help of a stipend from the social entrepreneur organization Ashoka - she was able to disseminate her Environmental Studies (EVS) approach to teaching. In just a few years, she could demonstrate that her approach significantly increased students' performance. "By the end of the 1980s," Bornstein reports, "the Indian government had incorporated EVS into its national curriculum, making it India's official standard of instruction in grades one through three."
Bornstein also describes - through the example of Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank - how a social entrepreneur can innovate better ways to alleviate poverty among a group of people. Yunus attacked this challenge by focusing on access to capital. By creating a way for villagers to access small amounts of working capital, they are able to purchase assets, increase their productive capacity, and capture profits that usually go to moneylenders and land owners.
Bornstein also highlights Justin Dart, a Texas Republican who had contracted polio in 1948 when he was 18 years old, and been denied a teaching certificate because he used a wheelchair. After visiting a facility in South Vietnam in 1967 for children with polio and witnessing the deplorable conditions there, he returned to the United States and became a spokesman for disability rights. He would eventually become a member of the National Council on the Handicapped during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and worked to advance the first version of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 1990, as chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, he fought to achieve the law's passage.
Bornstein shows readers how inspired individuals can use determination and innovation to make a difference.
Why We Like This Book
How to Change the World reveals fascinating stories about remarkably creative people who have been able to challenge the status quo and facilitate positive change for others. Any organization can use these stories that address many of the most difficult issues facing people today to gain inspiration to solve problems where others have failed.