Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know by David Bornstein and Susan Davis

Two separate people gave me this book as a gift.  I found it to be an incredibly insightful and informative resource for my current undertaking.  Some excerpts/ideas/references that I would like to give more thinking/research into:

– “Mikhail Gorbachev said that the single biggest factor behind the demise of the Soviet Union was the Beatles.” (p. 8 )

– “As the world has grown more urban and interdependent, the pace of change has accelerated.  Today, our adaptive systems must keep pace.  Whether it’s the environmental threat, infectious diseases, global terrorism, or economic crises, we have little time to fix things when they go awry; nor can we address problems chiefly in a centralized manner.  Solutions must be decentralized and integrated and deployed in real time.” (p. 12)

– “In Bangladesh, the influx of aid snowballed, until it came to represent 90 percent of the country’s development budget.  Billions of dollars were spent on projects – road construction, electricity generation, and agriculture development – that were prioritized by foreign donors and made sense on paper but often fell apart on the ground or produced benefits that bypassed the poor.  The legacy of this aid is a culture of dependency and corruption that continues to distort Bangladesh’s economy and government.

However, foreign aid did support some highly positive changes in Bangladesh when it was deployed to help finance – but not control – citizen organizations that were founded by local social entrepreneurs.  The two most famous examples are the Grameen Bank (the “Village Bank”) and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (now known as BRAC).” (p. 14)

-“The system changer must therefore overcome apathy, habit, incomprehension, and disbelief while facing heated resistance from those with vested interests.  Social entrepreneurs have to figure out how to make it happen.” (p. 22)

– “Consider the absurd demands we make on our governments.  Policy makers must appear decisive and resolute, with ready answers at their fingertips for all manner of problems.  An open and deliberative problem solving approach, informed by trial and error, is practically impossible to institutionalize in such an environment.  As a result, policies tend to be shaped by executive or legislative staff members who are removed from the details of implementation yet under intense time pressures to come up with comprehensive solutions or “plans”.  Consequentially, national policies are regularly based on assumptions that get tested largely after they become law.” (p. 22)

– “The job can be boiled down to one essential function: the social entrepreneur helps others to envision a new possibility, appreciate its meaning, and recognize how it can be broken down into doable steps that build momentum for change.” (p. 25)

– “It’s easier to get politicians to spend money on incarceration than on early childhood education.” (p. 25)

– “For people who are often exposed to extreme suffering, social entrepreneurs are surprisingly nonideological.  Ideology can impede problem solving if it puts a filter on reality and causes a person to dismiss evidence that challenges his or her beliefs.” (p. 29)

– “Social entrepreneurs don’t control major resources, and, unlike governments, they can’t command compliance.  They have to leverage resources that others control and influence people by articulating goals that are meaningful.” (p. 35)

– “In Poland, for example, a group called the Workshop for All Beings organized citizens into a national network of “wildlife guardians,” responsible for early detection of environmental threats.  In Brazil, Doutores da Alegria places trained clowns and actors in hospitals where they bring laughter to children coping with serious illness.  In India, street children trained by Childline as child protection advocates have responded to millions of emergency calls in more than 70 cities.  In Burkina Faso, the Mouvement Burkinabe des Droites de l’Homme et des Peuples has enlisted tens of thousands of citizens to monitor human rights abuses.  In Canada, the organization Roots of Empathy has brought thousands of mothers and babies into classrooms to teach empathy.  In the United States, Bookshare has helped visually impaired people to work together to build the world’s largest library of accessible books.” (p. 52)

– “One new development that may help is the establishment of a legal category now recognized by several U.S. states: a low-profit limited liability company, or “L3C,” which is intended to simplify the process by which foundations can invest in social-purpose businesses while complying with Internal Revenue Service rules.” (p. 56)

– “The question of how to finance and build effective social change organizations gets to a deeper set of challenges: determining which legal structures and organizational formats are best suited to different kinds of problems.” (p. 57)

– “Not only can BELL tell you how far its students have advanced during the school year, but it can tell you, week by week, how they are progressing.  When a student falls off pace, red flags go up, and the organization does its best to remedy the situation.  Most of BELL’s competitors could tell you how many students attended their programs and the number of hours each sat in class, but they can’t tell you what the children learned” (p. 62)

– “Without external pressure from funders, social organizations have often been content to assess their own performance in the crudest of ways: by the growth of their budgets or number of people “served.”  Thus, an ineffective after-school program can claim success by wasting the time of more children each year.” (p. 64)

– “The lesson was that what you count determines what you do.  So it’s important to count the right things.” (p. 64)

– “The most consistent global predictor of the well-being of a society is women’s educational attainment.” (p.67)

– “People will continue to create newer and better microfinance organizations into the future because they know they can do it, they know how to do it, and they know why it is worth their effort.  A field is truly sustainable when its institutions can be readily renewed and improved upon.” (p. 70)

– “Only if children honestly believe their ideas are valuable will they develop the interest, ability, and self-confidence to be lifelong learners and doers.  Duckworth adds, ‘Having confidence in one’s ideas does not mean ‘I know my ideas are right’; it means ‘I am willing to try out my ideas.”” (p. 82)

– “Success may hinge less on what you know than on how well you learn new things, spot patterns, take initiative, and work with others.” (p. 82)

– “Empathy is a skill that improves with practice.  Canadian educator and social entrepreneur Mary Gordon has demonstrated that empathy can be effectively taught to elementary and middle school students.  Her organization, Roots of Empathy, based in Toronto, helps tens of thousands of children acquire and apply this skill.  The approach is novel: once a month, children receive a classroom visit from a baby and its parent, usually the mother, and an instructor who guides the lesson.  The baby is deemed the “professor.”  During each visit, children are asked to observe and explain the baby’s sounds, expressions, and movements, and to make connections with their own experiences.  They learn to recognize and name the baby’s feelings, which helps them to understand their own feelings and those of their classmates.  Students in classes taught with Roots of Empathy engage in markedly less bullying and less social exclusion (the most stressful experiences for children) and learn to manage their emotions and peer interactions more successfully.” (p. 82 – 83)

– “In The Myth of Ability, he argues that educators mistakenly prioritize cognitive over emotional aspects of learning.  The first goal should be to build confidence because that leads to heightened attention and self-motivated effort.” (p. 84)

– “The big fear in government is not ineffectiveness, but scandals or failures that can be exploited by the opposition.  Governments, therefore, face extreme demands for accountability.  They often design policies around the methods of accountability.  Governments also respect hierarchy and territory.  They work by committee and strive for consensus.” (p. 92)

– “Survival rates in business indicate that the growth phase is every bit as risky as the launch phase.  Scaling requires continuous learning and adjustment, a job that takes more flexibility than governments, as currently structured, usually enjoy.” (p. 95)

– “Some, like Aravind Eye Care System in India, which has performed millions of surgeries, achieve profitability through cross-subsidization (sliding-scale pricing in which better off customers pay more for the same services than poor people, who pay little or nothing).” (p. 103)

– “One change that social entrepreneurship may advance is the legitimizing of a category of news focused on solutions.  Mainstream news today is dominated by information about problems and stories of conflict.” (p. 116)

– “Understanding how to engage successfully with the field of social entrepreneurship begins with self-knowledge.” (p. 122)

– “The more honest your intention, the more genuine your attachment to the work, the more effective you will be – and the more fulfilled.” (p. 123)

– “Building an organization is a process of cultivating relationships.” (p. 124)

– “But over the long run, the deepest changes in behavior and attitude are rooted not in laws but in feelings.” (p. 127)

To further research:

– Kickstart

– TechnoServe

– International Development Enterprises

– Ashoka

– Echoing Green

– New Profit, Inc.

– Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

– Skoll Foundation

– Social Accountability International

– D. light Design

– Shorebank Corporation

– 1sky


– Energy Action Coalition

– Youth Venture

– Youth Action Net

– Do Something

– Reynold’s Foundation

– Draper Richard’s Foundation

– Jenesis Group

– Ford Foundation

– Global Giving

– Canada Helps

– Net Impact

– Social Venture Partners

– Kiva

– MyC4

– Donors Choose

– New Ventures

– National Center for Social Entrepreneurs

– Endeavor

– The Acumen Fund

– Bridgespan

– Bridgestar

– Commongood Careers

– On Ramps


– Playworks

– Seventh Generation

– Year Up

– PopTech

– Good Experience Live

– Aspen Ideas Festival

– Clinton Global Initiative

– White House’s Office of Social Innovation

– Peace Games

– Green Dot Public Schools

– Uncommon Schools

– Knowledge is Power Program

– Roots of Empathy


– StartingBloc

– Transformative Action Institute

– Unreasonable Institute

– America Forward


– Nonprofit Finance Fund Capital Partners

– Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

– SeaChange Capital Partners

– Global Giving

– Social Edge

– Center for Social Innovation

– MARS Discovery District

– Social Innovation Generation

– PLAN Institute

– University of Waterloo

– J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

– CNN Heroes

– Frontline/World Social Entrepreneurs


– Groundviews

– News Trust

– Parliment Watch

– The Blue Sweater

– VisionSpring


0 Responses to “Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know by David Bornstein and Susan Davis”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 78 other followers

Follow us on facebook!

Tweet with us!


%d bloggers like this: