How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas

In How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, David Bornstein describes social entrepreneurs as individuals that start businesses to enhance society – individuals with the influence, ideas and drive to change the way the world works for the better. Although he describes social entrepreneurship as a growing phenomenon, he tells us that it’s been around for a while. One of the first examples he gives is Florence Nightingale. Her work to change the medical system of the British army and then in Britain itself decreased the mortality rate of wounded soldiers by 100s of percent. She created a self sustaining organization (a new medical organization) that improved the lives of those in her society.
Bornstein introduces an organization called Ashoka, a nonprofit organization that invests in social entrepreneurs. Through the work and motivation of nine Ashoka fellows, Bornstein shows us what a social entrepreneur is. He uses examples from around the world, from setting up an organization to help homeless children in India to providing affordable irrigation to rural farmers in Brazil. In all cases Ashoka looks for individuals that are self-motivated, already well along the way to making their dream come true, have a realistic plan and a self-sustaining plan. Social entrepreneurs set up organizations that are at least self-sufficient if not profitable. They may need donations and hard work to get started but they are in the end a new profitable way of doing business. For example, in Brazil, Fábio Rosa uses both new technology and new regulations to bring cheap electricity to rural farmers which enables them to use wells and pumps to irrigate their land.
The book is very well written. By describing the nine Ashoka fellows, Bornstein helps the reader understand what motivates these social entrepreneurs, in turn motivating the reader. I highly recommend the book.