Ana Escalante

Interview With David Bornstein and Other Thoughts

WorldIn the face of this new reality, an increasing number of forward-looking nonprofits are beginning to appreciate the increased revenue, focus and effectiveness that can come from adopting “for profit” business approaches. Increasingly, they are reinventing themselves as social entrepreneurs, combining “the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination.” From “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship” by J. Gregory Dees.

Social entrepreneurs have the motivation of making the world a better place and have a passion for a social mission through entrepreneurial, earned-income strategies commonly known as triple bottom line.David Bornstein is the author of “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas,” a book about social entrepreneurship. Guy Kawasaki recently interviewed him because Bornstein just updated his book; if you haven?t read it, it’s a good time to go to the store and get the new, updated version. The Stanford Social Innovation Review published an article in the summer 2007 issue trying to define what a social entrepreneur is. It seems that the term gets broader and broader every day; Ashoka defines it as “men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems.

A little self promotion: Rodrigo Villar, director of WRI’s New Ventures project in Mexico, has been awarded the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship, which supports social entrepreneurs. As an Ashoka fellow, he will develop a directory of “Green Pages.” This directory is a sustainable products and services guide (like the Yellow Pages) that will inform green consumers in Mexico.

In the interview with Guy Kawasaki, Bornstein emphasizes the role of social entrepreneurship in the world. He talks about how social entrepreneurship is starting to be a more mainstream idea, and how more and more people are becoming familiar with the term and the outcomes. The only caveat is, as I mentioned earlier, that there should be a more clear definition on who exactly is a social entrepreneur. At the moment, the term is considered very broad, according to the SSIR article quoted above.

Kawasaki questions Bornstein, asking him how social entrepreneurs find their motivation and how are they willing to change the world. Bornstein says that “social entrepreneurs are primarily motivated by an ethical imperative. They seek to respond to urgent needs.” I agree with Bornstein; there are many people in the world who are not necessarily motivated solely by making money. Rather, they also have other priorities such as helping others, helping the earth and helping the environment.

The bottom line is that we focus on the “doing good” aspects, on the sacrifice, and ethical components, but we often forget to mention how wonderful it feels to take meaningful action in line with your core beliefs. Finally people often delay because they just don?t know where to go, what to do, or how to take the first step. So there is a big need for tools that help people find their place in the field of social entrepreneurship and social innovation. That is actually the subject of the current book I am working on.

There are many social entrepreneurs in the world, and many talented people with values and passions aligned with the idea of changing the world and making it a better place. The interview also touches the subject of business entrepreneurs starting to focus on social issues such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Entrepreneurs are successful only to the degree that they can bring together other people with different talents and abilities, who can, as a team, build things they could never do apart. Entrepreneurs are hubs or magnets: organizing forces. It takes many hands working together to produce any significant change.

All of Bornstein’s answers are very convincing; there are good people out there willing to change the world and it makes me happy that they are not necessarily only motivated by money as many might argue. We are all working on that.