Among the early pioneers of social entrepreneurs are Bill Drayton and Muhammad Yunus. You may also have heard of Grameen Foundation or Barefoot College. But you may not know who these individuals are or how they achieved their successes. Here are some key insights from these leaders:
Bill Drayton is the Father of Social Entrepreneurship
Ashoka, founded by American social entrepreneur Bill Drayton, has grown into the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs. Bill Drayton is widely credited with coining the term social entrepreneurship and is widely considered the father of the field. Ashoka works to identify, nurture, and connect social entrepreneurs around the world. The organization has over 3,500 fellows and focuses on inspiring young people to drive positive change.
As a student, Drayton saw his future in service to the community, starting as early as his childhood. Growing up in a racially diverse New York, Drayton was active in the NAACP and other civil rights movements. In college, Drayton helped found Harvard University’s Ashoka Table. He was also a consultant for McKinsey & Company and founded the Yale Legislative Service, a nonprofit that helps key elected officials draft legislation.
Many people may not have heard of Muhammad Yunus, social entrepreneurs and Nobel Peace Prize winner. But this nonpolitician has achieved a wide range of achievements and is now a global figure. He has delivered numerous lectures around the world, and has even made appearances on popular television shows. In 2006, he was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In 2008, he made an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. And in 2009, he appeared on the Colbert Report and Real Time With Bill Maher. In 2010, he appeared on The Simpsons. His followers on Google+ total over two million.
But Professor Yunus’s idea was not without a few problems. First, he wanted to know if he could lend money to the poor without worrying about whether it would be repaid. Then he became frustrated with the lack of access to credit at local banks. When a woman named Sufiya Begum complained to him about how moneylenders treated her, he took action.
The founder of Barefoot College for Social Entrepreneurs, Bunker Roy, was an Indian social entrepreneur born into a rich family. He decided to start a college for the poor as the first step towards changing the world. Located in Tilonia, Rajasthan, Barefoot College offers a modern education to students from low-income backgrounds. This college is solar-powered and built by the local rural poor.
The founders of Barefoot College for Social Entrepreneurs, Bunker Roy, a former dropout and washout of a traditional business college, believe strongly in social entrepreneurship and the power of collective action. The Barefoot model has helped train thousands of people globally and is the only one that is 100% solar powered. He is a Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Awardee and was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2010.
A recent Accenture Economic Development Award honors the Village Phone program in Bangladesh. The program empowers village phone operators to provide pay-phone services to underserved communities, and its success helped inspire similar programs outside of Bangladesh. This program has become so popular that the Grameen Foundation is expanding it to serve other communities in the region. The Grameen Foundation is also a recipient of a CB Insights Technology Award. The foundation was recognized for advancing the development of small businesses, which enables the poor to access the world of opportunity.
The book is written by Alex Counts, who founded the Grameen Foundation in 1997 and now serves as CEO. Counts has a background in microfinance, poverty reduction, and nonprofit leadership. She speaks Bengali and lives in Washington, DC. She loves to listen to live music and is an active promoter of local live music venues. Her commitment to social entrepreneurs is evident from the book’s title, and it’s worth reading.
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