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How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195138054
ISBN-10: 0195138058
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.".
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Wonderfully hopeful and enlightening.... The stories of these social entreprenuers will inspire and encourage many people who seek to build a better world."--Nelson Mandela

"The book is must reading for anyone who cares about building a more equitable, and therefore more stable, world."--William J. Holstein, New York Times

"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."--Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating book.... Well-documented cases of grassroots entrepreneurial activities to tackle such diverse social problems as child abuse, disability, illiteracy, and environmental degradation give life to it."--Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Business Week

"Human progress has always been led by visionary individuals who seek a better future and dedicate their lives to realizing that promise. These social entrepreneurs tackle some of the world's toughest challenges with grit and determination. Bornstein has given us that rarest of gifts: a book about hope, about courage, and about the power of those extraordinary man and women who change the world."--Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman, Skoll Foundation, and first president of eBay

"The social entrepreneurs chronicled in this book are part of the vital generation of independent, creative leaders who are sparking social changes in the United States and in parts of world where people are most in need. We will be hearing much more from them in the years to come." --Bill Bradley

"David Bornstein's book will touch the hearts and minds of many. I hope it will get the wide readership it deserves. Without the effort and energy of civil society the odds are against the fulfillment of all the development needs of today's world, especially the developing world. Pick up a copy and spread the word!" --Arminio Fraga, Former Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil

"[A] splendid book.... A careful, monumental piece of work [that] so greatly transcends research and reporting because of [Bornstein's] common sense, good judgement and sympathy, which infuses the whole thing." --Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, on The Price of a Dream


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195138058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195138054
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
So many of us share a palpable hunger to make the world a better place. You can sense it in vigorous retirees still aching to contribute; and in restless baby boomers ready to marry the idealism of the '60s to all their practical skills gained since then. And you can easily detect it in young people. They refuse to inherit such hollow, bankrupt ideas as slavishly working and consuming being either their destiny or patriotic duty.
Without question, many people are ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in to fix, or at least substantially address, the very problems that evade governments and established institutions.
Some folks, David Bornstein shows us, are doing that all over the world already.
This thoughtful, well-researched book serves up plenty of hope replete with case studies from around the globe. Dig in to this book and you will believe that people with imagination and commitment can make substantial contributions. (Though, despite the author's assertion, it still helps, in a major way, to have connections to those with money or power.)
The book makes the case that a few driven people (who, as Bornstein points out, are not selfless) can make a major impact when more powerful players are either not willing or not capable to do what needs doing.
The tapestry woven by Mr. Bornstein is mostly a collection of enlightening biographical profiles of social movers (in India, Brazil, South Africa, Hungary...). You'll find chapters on Florence Nightengale (yes, the 19th century British nurse), Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka (the organization that provides much of the foundation for Bornstein's interest and research), and others who've made great contributions with little notice.
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By A Customer on March 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My takeaway from this highly inspirational book is: Dare to care. In a self-obsessed world, where the "I" reigns supreme, along comes a book that has the potential to change that for ever. I would be surprised if this book did not serve as a catalyst for all those people who are aching to leave their mark on the earth's future by altering the world for the better.

In How to Change the World, author David Bornstein presents short biographies of ordinary citizens who have cared enough to actually go out and change what is wrong in society. The nine stories of social entrepreneurs or innovators, dubbed 'transformative forces' by the author, have the power to inspire readers to want to do something. The fine examples of social entrepreneurship within the pages of this book make one realize that there is hope for the planet after all.
To quote Bornstein, "Across the world, social entrepreneurs are demonstrating new approaches to many social ills and new models to create social wealth, promote social well-being, and restore the environment." What is tremendously energizing is that so many of these change agents already exist and are moving mountains for you and me, and for our children.

The major contribution of the book is that it underlines that one doesn't have to be rich or powerful to alter the current reality. What is required is to feel empathy and concern in high doses, and to recognize and understand a problem. The stories trace how, if one is sufficiently charged, creative ideas for `getting around' problem areas -- be it public apathy or bureaucratic indifference -- flow naturally. The hallmark of a true social entrepreneur really shines through at the next stage, when these ideas are converted into reality.
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Format: Hardcover
This account of one man's efforts to revise the defintion of "entrepreneur" demonstrates the capacity of what can be achieved from small beginnings. Bill Drayton has created a "consulting" firm that girdles the world. Creator and promoter of Ashoka, a foundation dedicated to social change, Drayton uses a highly selective arrangement to locate and encourage people desiring social change. Their efforts, rarely, if ever, depicted in either mainstream media or even specialty publications, are here explained and endorsed. As is Drayton's unorthodox methods. Yet those methods, and the people adapting them to local conditions, have been demonstrably successful. They need further study and application.

Drayton, through Bornstein's depiction, has redefined the term "entrepreneur" from its narrow economic framework into a broader and more flexible environment. Money "profit" is no longer the basis for evaluation. Instead, how widely can a new idea and its promoter[s] affect betterment of the people shunted aside by pure capitalism? Is the multinational the sole or even the major means for offering employment and economic gain? Must the values implied by major infusions of capital, often with restraints tied to the investment, be limited to what firms successful in developed countries decide? Drayton argues that instead of "top-down" economic structures, change for the better should come about by local initiative. How far this idea has spread is exemplified by the map opening the book. From Brazil to Bangladesh, people with drive, patience and talent have made, and are making substantive changes within their communities, regions and entire nations.
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