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How to Change the World – Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
David Bornstein, ca. 290 pages, 2007, Oxford University Press
Although our planet’s degree of interconnection and globalization is constantly increasing, today’s global economy is still failing to provide basic resources, services and infrastructure to everybody in need. However, David Bornstein does not see a solution to this issue in altruistic charity or strict governmental regulations. He rather pins his hope on the creativity of individuals who try tenaciously to improve the world we live in. His book How to Change the World is hence a chronicle of cases of socalled social entrepreneurs – remarkable personalities who established successful business models, which have improved the lives of people around the globe.
Bornstein has extensively looked into the work of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, a global network of social entrepreneurs. Its founder, Bill Drayton, has developed a system to systematically look for change-making people and ideas and support them with funding and know-how. In a number of narratives, Bornstein tells the stories of a small selection of the 3000 existing Ashoka members. Each one introduces the person in detail, explains their motivation and specifies the social impact of the respective project. The list of countries is as far-reaching as the different fields of work, which are addressed here: Rural electrification in Brazil, child protection in India and assistance for disabled people in Hungary all comprise the repertoire.
In between these narratives, Bornstein reflects on his and Drayton’s findings, aiming at more general patterns and parallels between the different cases described. On the one hand he finds similar circumstances in each case, which have been decisive for such a large number of individuals to develop the motivation to actually change society in the last decades. A continuance of suppression, injustice and under-supply in the lives of a large part of global society, combined with increasing possibilities regarding communication and infrastructure, have led to a shift from state-based power to what he calls a “citizen sector”. On the other hand, Bornstein recognizes similar qualities that social entrepreneurs have in common – such as their strong ethical impetus and their willingness to break free from established structures.
How to Change the World contrasts the romantic and dreamy idea of change-makers with empirical and practical experiences, each of which is based on precise facts and numbers. In this manner, David Bornstein provides a general impression of both the challenges and the possibilities in the field of social entrepreneurship and depicts the how-tos that theorists often try to avoid.
Tripl3leader recommends this book both to executives in established corporations and to leaders of recently founded young companies. The captivating narratives, as well as the theoretical thoughts behind these phenomena are inspiring and motivating for anybody wondering how profitable and sustainable business structures can be combined with striking improvements of society and a positive impact on our planet.