Tag Archives: social entrepreneurship

Social Enterprise: A Resource List

Here are the books, periodicals, blogs, websites, and organizations I’ve come across in exploring the field of social enterprise. This is by no means a comprehensive list (although, so far as I can tell, it’s longer than any other I’ve found). And I haven’t read everything here or engaged with all the websites or organizations in the list — though I’m working on it.

I’ve boldfaced those items with which I am personally familiar and recommend as good sources of information and insight about social entrepreneurship. The books I’ve reviewed in this blog are linked to their reviews.


Bryan Bell, Editor, Good Deeds, Good Design: Community Service Through Architecture (2004)

David Bornstein, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition (2007)

—, The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank (1997, 2005)

— and Susan Davis, Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010)

Ben Cohen and Mal Warwick, Values-Driven Business: How to Change the World, Make Money, and Have Fun (2006)

Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven, Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day (2009)

Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great (2005)

Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, 2nd Edition (2008, 2012)

J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson, and Peter Economy, Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs: Enhancing the Performance of Your Enterprising Nonprofit (2002)

Cheryl L. Dorsey and Lara Galinsky, Be Bold (2006)

John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan, The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World (2008)

Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere (2012)

Adam Hochschild, Bury The Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves (2006)

Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World (2003)

Paul Charles Light, The Search for Social Entrepreneurship (2008)

Kevin Lynch and Julius Walls, Jr., Mission, Inc.: The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Enterprise (2008)

Johanna Mair, Jeffrey Robinson, and Kai Hockerts, Social Entrepreneurship (2006)

Pavithra Mehta, Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World’s Greatest Business Case for Compassion, (2011)

Alex Nicholls, Editor, Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change (2006)

Jacqueline Novogratz, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World (2009)

Paul Polak, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (2009)

C. K. Prahalad, Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, Revised and Updated (2004, 2009)

Beverly Schwartz, Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World (2012)

Rupert Scofield, The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook: How to Start, Build, and Run a Business That Improves the World (2011)

Cynthia E. Smith, Design for the Other 90% (2009)

Social Enterprise Alliance, Succeeding at Social Enterprise: Hard-Won Lessons for Nonprofits and Social Entrepreneurs (2010)

Jane C. Wei-Skillern, James E. Austin, Herman B. Leonard, and Howard H. Stevenson, Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector (2007)

Wilford Welch, Tactics of Hope: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Changing Our World (2008)

Muhammad Yunus, Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism (2008)


Stanford Social Innovation Review (Stanford University), http://www.ssireview.org/

Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization (MIT), http://www.mitpressjournals.org/loi/itgg


Evan Carmichael’s Top 30 Social Entrepreneurship Blogs to Watch in 2012, http://www.evancarmichael.com/blog/2012/04/10/the-top-30-social-entrepreneur-blogs-to-watch-in-2012/

Skoll Foundation Social Edge, http://www.socialedge.org/


World Resource Institute’s NextBillion.net, http://nextbillion.net/

CSRWire, http://www.csrwire.com/

Alltop’s Social Entrepreneurship Coverage, http://social-entrepreneurship.alltop.com/

Catalyst Fund’s Social Business blog, http://www.clearlyso.com/

Dowser.org, http://dowser.org/

E-180’s Top  25 Social Entrepreneurship Websites, http://blog.e-180.com/en/2009/02/our-top-25-social-entrepreneurship-websites/


Institute for Social Entrepreneurs, http://www.socialent.org/

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, http://www.ashoka.org/

Echoing Green, http://www.echoinggreen.org/

Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship (Oxford University), http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/centres/skoll/Pages/default.aspx

Social Venture Network, http://svn.org/

Social Enterprise Alliance, https://www.se-alliance.org/

Net Impact, http://netimpact.org/

University Network for Social Entrepreneurship, http://bit.ly/KwqWgz


Bainbridge Graduate Institute, http://www.bgi.edu/

Center for Responsible Business, Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley, http://responsiblebusiness.haas.berkeley.edu/

Center for Social Innovation, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, http://csi.gsb.stanford.edu/

Presidio School of Management, http://www.presidioedu.org/

Babson College, MBA in Entrepreneurship,  http://www.babson.edu/graduate/Pages/landing-graduate.aspx?gclid=CPm_1YL37rACFUQaQgodizXjug

Marlboro College Graduate School, MBA in Sustainability, https://gradschool.marlboro.edu/academics/mba/

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/student_resources/academics/concentrations/social_entrepreneurship/

Also see Aspen Institute rating of top 30 SUStainable MBA programs,  http://www.topmba.com/mba-rankings/sustainability-mba


Filed under FAQs & Commentaries

Social entrepreneurship: what it is, how it works, and where it’s going

A review of Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know, by David Bornstein and Susan Davis

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)

After three decades of increasingly widespread public attention, a surprisingly large number of commentators in the field of social entrepreneurship continue to argue about the most basic question of all: What is a social enterprise, and what isn’t? In this superb little book, David Bornstein and Susan Davis straightforwardly put this question to rest: “Social entrepreneurship is a process by which citizens build or transform institutions to advance solutions to social problems, such as poverty, illness, illiteracy, environmental destruction, human rights abuses, and corruption, in order to make life better for many.” So much for all those deconstructionists who contend that a social enterprise must never turn a profit, or must always turn a profit, or must address some sorts of problems but not others!

As an introduction to the field, Social Entrepreneurship is unmatched.

Most books on social entrepreneurship feature case studies or vignettes starring some of the field’s most innovative and successful individuals. This was the case with an earlier book of Bornstein’s, How to Change the World, which is widely (and rightfully) regarded as “the bible” of the field. By contrast, the three short chapters that constitute Social Entrepreneurship ask and answer the most fundamental questions that any reader unfamiliar with the pursuit of social change might ask, first clarifying the definition of social entrepreneurship, then examining the practical challenges practitioners face, and finally “Envisioning an Innovating Society.” In that third chapter, Bornstein and Davis discuss how government, academia, business, philanthropy, and the news media might contribute to fashioning the “everyone a changemaker” world posited by Ashoka’s Bill Drayton.

As the authors point out, “Social entrepreneurs have always existed. But in the past they were called visionaries, humanitarians, philanthropists, reformers, saints, or simply great leaders. Attention was paid to their courage, compassion, and vision but rarely to the practical aspects of their accomplishments. Thus, people may know about the moral teachings of St. Francis but not about how the Franciscans became the fastest growing religious order of its day. Children learn that Florence Nightingale ministered to wounded soldiers but not that she built the first professional school for nurses and revolutionized hospital construction. Gandhi is remembered for demonstrations of nonviolent rsistance but not for building a decentralized political apparatus that enabled India to make a successful transition to self-rule.” And if St. Francis, Florence Nightingale, and Gandhi exemplified the isolated and occasional social entrepreneurs of yesteryear, there are thousands of courageous individuals now walking parallel paths to institutional change on every continent — backed up by a growing suport network that includes Ashoka, the Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Avina, and many other organizations. Given the enormity of the challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century, their combined efforts may represent our last, best hope to create a world in which our grandchildren can live healthy, rewarding lives.

David Bornstein and Susan Davis came to the task of writing this book with impeccable qualifications. In addition to How to Change the World, which went into a second edition in 2007, Bornstein wrote The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank, first published in 1996. He is the preeminent journalist in the field. Davis is a supremely accomplished activist, having served as a founding member of the Grameen Foundation and then co-founding BRAC USA, which she serves as President and CEO. (BRAC began its institutional life as a Bangladeshi nonprofit, later expanding to many other countries around the world. It is regarded as the world’s largest NGO.) She also helps select Ashoka Fellows. Previously, she held a series of senior positions with the Ford Foundation, Women’s World Banking, the International Labor Organisation, and other institutions.


Filed under Business, Nonfiction

How social entrepreneurs are changing our world for the better

A review of Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World, by Beverly Schwartz

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)

Hiding behind the abstract title of this book is an engrossing account that might better have been subtitled “How Ashoka Fellows Spread Innovation Throughout the World.” (I won’t venture to suggest a better title.) The social entrepreneurs in question are, indeed, all Ashoka Fellows, the author served Ashoka as global marketing director for eight years, and Bill Drayton, Ashoka’s founder and chair, wrote a foreword. But I guess “social entrepreneurs” is more inclusive and thus presumably sells more books than “Ashoka Fellows,” so I really shouldn’t complain.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with Ashoka, please do yourself a favor and click on the underlined name in this sentence. The Ashoka network is nothing less than one of the greatest social innovations of the 20th century. Its more than 2,000 Fellows in over 70 countries around the world are, collectively, the most powerful engine for constructive social change on Planet Earth.

There are two aspects of this first book from Ashoka that I found especially winning:

First, author Beverly Schwartz told the stories of 18 Ashoka Fellows from around the world, and none of them are the usual suspects (the Fellows whose names and tales are familiar to anyone who has read more than a book or two about social enterprise).

Second, Rippling is organized in a manner that illuminates the range and the character of the work that Ashoka Fellows do: “the five strategic ways that social entrepreneurs change social systems — inclusive of both social business and citizen sector models.” These five paths include “restructuring institutional norms,” “changing market dynamics,” “using market forces to create social value,” “advancing full citizenship,” and “cultivating empathy.” Schwartz presents three or four examples in each of these sections, so the reader gains understanding about both the commonalities and the differences among Ashoka’s growing network of Fellows. Most of these stories are engaging. Some are deeply moving. A few were riveting.

Even a cursory familiarity with Ashoka will expose you to the organization’s distinctive vocabulary. Its credo is “Everyone a changemaker.” The work of its fellows engenders “virtuous cycles of social benefit.” Its core value is “empathy.” Far be it from me to try explaining these terms. I suggest you read the book. Do so, and you will gain hope for the future of our species.


Filed under Business, Nonfiction

The power of unreasonable people, and how they’re changing the world

A review of The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)

For more than a decade I’ve been deeply immersed in the world of social entrepreneurship. Yet somehow I neglected to read this important book when it was first published four years ago. (I acquired a copy, stuck it on a shelf, and promptly forgot all about it.) To my mind, The Power of Unreasonable People ranks with David Bornstein’s seminal work, How to Change the World, as a point of entry into this fascinating, and increasingly important, realm.

The field of social entrepreneurship, still early in its development after Bill Drayton first gave the concept prominence early in the 1980s with the launch of Ashoka, is rife with disagreement. Some observers insist that a social enterprise must be a not-for-profit enterprise. Others assert that only for-profit ventures qualify for the label. Fortunately, Elkington and Hartigan believe that the whole range of organizational forms can be thought of as “social enterprises.” I say fortunately because (a) I agree with them, and (b) to insist otherwise is to miss so much of what is exciting in the field.

The Power of Unreasonable People covers the landscape, describing examples from virtually every area of interest in development, from healthcare to education to poverty eradication. In fact, the book is most rewarding in its presentation of vignettes of individual social enterprises, including interviews with many of their principals. A lot of the examples are familiar to anyone active in the field. Some are not. However, this is no mere collection of case studies. The authors embed each organization within a typology of their devising, allowing the reader to get a sense of how they may be compared with one another. The Power of Unreasonable People concludes with a discussion of the structural changes that are essential if humankind is to prevail in the face of endemic poverty on three continents, ethnic and religious conflicts, and the growing impact of climate change.

John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan are two of the most qualified people in the world to have written this book. Elkington, a force in the area of corporate social responsibility for three decades and a prolific author, co-founded the consultancy SustainAbility in 1987 and originated the term Triple Bottom Line in the 1990s. Hartigan served as founding managing director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship from 2001 to 2008, partnered with Elkington to establish the consultancy Volans, and now works as Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University.


Filed under Business, Nonfiction