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

Journalist Bornstein (The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank) profiles nine indomitable champions of social change who developed innovative ways to address needs they saw around them in places as distinct as Bombay, India; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and inner-city Washington, D.C. As these nine grew influential when their ingenious ideas proved ever more widely successful, they came to the attention of Ashoka, an organization that sponsors a fellows program to foster social innovation by finding so-called social entrepreneurs to support. As Bornstein interviewed these and many other Ashoka fellows, he saw patterns in the ways they fought to solve their specifically local problems. To demonstrate the commonality among experiences as diverse as a Hungarian mother striving to provide a fuller life for her handicapped son and a South African nurse starting a home-care system for AIDS patients, he presents useful unifying summaries of “four practices of innovative organizations” and “six qualities of successful social entrepreneurs.” Bornstein implies that his subjects are in the tradition of Florence Nightingale and Gandhi; the inspiring portraits that emerge from his in-depth reporting on the environments in which individual programs evolved (whether in politically teeming India or amid the expansive grasslands of Brazil) certainly show these unstoppable entrepreneurs as extraordinarily savvy community development experts. In adding up the vast number of current nongovernmental organizations and their corps of agents of positive change, Bornstein aims to persuade that, “without a doubt, the past twenty years has produced more social entrepreneurs than terrorists.”.
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