Social Entrepreneurs Go Mainstream
Monday, March 30, 2009
In the wake of the 2008 financial flameout, most business people are, to put it mildly, downbeat. Banks aren’t lending, consumers aren’t spending and the prospects for the rest of the year seem grim. All of which makes social entrepreneurs, well, intensely—even passionately—optimistic.
“This is a slam dunk,” says Willy Foote, the founder of Root Capital, which provides loans to rural businesses in Latin America, Africa and Asia. “The Wall Street meltdown provides a chance to think about how we transition from a financial system that is complex, opaque and anonymous to one that is direct and transparent.”
The world seems ready for such a change. In the middle of one of the farthest-reaching financial collapses in history, U.S. President Barack Obama came into office faced with the challenge of delivering on his promise of change. People are tired of business as usual. The exasperation is palpable, but so is the hope that this time, we can and will do things differently. Social entrepreneurs have always believed this, and for many, it’s their moment to shine.
“In a world where change is escalating exponentially, the only way we’ll make it is if everyone has the mindset of a social entrepreneur,” says Bill Drayton, a pioneer in the field and founder of Ashoka, which sponsors international leaders in philanthropic business. “The current upheaval is a great opportunity to flip the switch. We need to make everyone a change-maker.”