Customer Reviews: Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know®
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on July 28, 2010
It usually takes me two months to read a nonfiction book. However in this case I read Bornstein and Davis in less than 5 days because I was completely engaged with their explanations and definitions of everything related to social entrepreneurship.
I was fully inspired by Bornstein's "How to change the world" and the cases he presented. In his new book with Davis I understood more about social entrepreneurship, its challenges, strengths, etc.
I have been working on an organization that promotes social entrepreneurship for more than 3 years; after reading this book I understand more about my organization and my role.
I believe that this book is crucial for everyone interested in social innovation, public service or social entrepreneurship.
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on June 25, 2012
After three decades of increasingly widespread public attention, a surprisingly large number of commentators in the field of social entrepreneurship continue to argue about the most basic question of all: What is a social enterprise, and what isn't? In this superb little book, David Bornstein and Susan Davis straightforwardly put this question to rest: "Social entrepreneurship is a process by which citizens build or transform institutions to advance solutions to social problems, such as poverty, illness, illiteracy, environmental destruction, human rights abuses, and corruption, in order to make life better for many." So much for all those deconstructionists who contend that a social enterprise must never turn a profit, or must always turn a profit, or must address some sorts of problems but not others!

As an introduction to the field, Social Entrepreneurship is unmatched.

Most books on social entrepreneurship feature case studies or vignettes starring some of the field's most innovative and successful individuals. This was the case with an earlier book of Bornstein's, How to Change the World, which is widely (and rightfully) regarded as "the bible" of the field. By contrast, the three short chapters that constitute Social Entrepreneurship ask and answer the most fundamental questions that any reader unfamiliar with the pursuit of social change might ask, first clarifying the definition of social entrepreneurship, then examining the practical challenges practitioners face, and finally "Envisioning an Innovating Society." In that third chapter, Bornstein and Davis discuss how government, academia, business, philanthropy, and the news media might contribute to fashioning the "everyone a changemaker" world posited by Ashoka's Bill Drayton.

As the authors point out, "Social entrepreneurs have always existed. But in the past they were called visionaries, humanitarians, philanthropists, reformers, saints, or simply great leaders. Attention was paid to their courage, compassion, and vision but rarely to the practical aspects of their accomplishments. Thus, people may know about the moral teachings of St. Francis but not about how the Franciscans became the fastest growing religious order of its day. Children learn that Florence Nightingale ministered to wounded soldiers but not that she built the first professional school for nurses and revolutionized hospital construction. Gandhi is remembered for demonstrations of nonviolent rsistance but not for building a decentralized political apparatus that enabled India to make a successful transition to self-rule." And if St. Francis, Florence Nightingale, and Gandhi exemplified the isolated and occasional social entrepreneurs of yesteryear, there are thousands of courageous individuals now walking parallel paths to institutional change on every continent -- backed up by a growing suport network that includes Ashoka, the Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Avina, and many other organizations. Given the enormity of the challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century, their combined efforts may represent our last, best hope to create a world in which our grandchildren can live healthy, rewarding lives.

David Bornstein and Susan Davis came to the task of writing this book with impeccable qualifications. In addition to How to Change the World, which went into a second edition in 2007, Bornstein wrote The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank, first published in 1996. He is the preeminent journalist in the field. Davis is a supremely accomplished activist, having served as a founding member of the Grameen Foundation and then co-founding BRAC USA, which she serves as President and CEO. (BRAC began its institutional life as a Bangladeshi nonprofit, later expanding to many other countries around the world. It is regarded as the world's largest NGO.) She also helps select Ashoka Fellows. Previously, she held a series of senior positions with the Ford Foundation, Women's World Banking, the International Labor Organisation, and other institutions.

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on October 2, 2010
The most comprehensive overview of social entrepreneurship yet also the shortest and most concise. Each section gives you the needed background about a topic, then summarizes what is happening now with short but insightful comments on every topic. This is, in one short book, the best primer for those who want an overview of the field but also the most penetrating analysis for practitioners. Bornstein's deep knowledge of social entrepreneurship, from the entrepreneurs to the concepts and emerging trends all shine through on every page.
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on January 17, 2012
This book is a great place to start for anyone who wants to participate in changing the world.I know,the idea of one person changing the world may sound crazy to many, but this book isn't for "the many";it's for those who have the audacity to believe that the world is full of potential to be "better" and they could be a catalyst for that better.The book is a toolbox filled with tangible information on where to start,who to see and what to do to change things at any level you can imagine from just within you to your family or even the world.
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on February 12, 2011
The book provides an excellent introduction to social entrepreneurship and how individuals can play a role in creating social change. The authors walk us through what social entrepreneurship is, the pioneers and how it is different from government, activism, and traditional entrepreneurship. The next section covers the challenges of addressing some of societies most intractable problems through entrepreneurial endeavors. The book concludes with a discussion how to envision an innovating society where people are taking charge of making long term systemic change to society. A must read for anyone new to the field of social entrepreneurship or wants to help create social change.
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on June 5, 2010
What do you get when you combine business skills with social conscience? A social entrepreneur. Social entrepreneurs recognize when a part of society is stuck and offers new ways to get society unstuck. They don't just give a fish or even teach people how to fish. They revolutionize fishing. Examples in the book of social entrepreneurs are the micro-loan Grameen Bank, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. This book is great for people who see a big problem in society, e.g., high school drop out rates of 50%+ among Hispanic males, divorce rates 50%+ and unemployment rates of 10%, and tackle the issues using little money but lots of energy and innovation.
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on October 15, 2013
I think I may have broken my Kindle highlighter reading this book (just kidding). But seriously, this book was so powerful, inspirational, and jammed full of practical ideas, that I was constantly using the highlight feature. I'm a baby social entrepreneur, both for myself and for the nonprofit organization for which I work, and this book has encouraged, spurred me, on and given my practical steps to continue on this exciting path. World changers unite! Thank you for this wonderful book!
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on April 8, 2015
This book goes a long way toward helping the uninformed lay person about the nature, history, impact, and promise of the social entrepreneur movement. The authors provide multiple examples and draw from a number of disciplines to explain the movement. This demonstrates one of the principles I take away from the book--social entrepreneurship is an interdisciplinary activity. This is one of its strengths but also one of the challenges to its implementation. A good read.
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on August 3, 2014
I have a strong interest in social entrepreneurship ever since I envisioned a social enterprise (and as I grew disillusioned with Government and the progress of other NGOs and nonprofits). I was hoping that this book would give some insights in the direction of social work and some ideas of where we could take things. I was right. I got loads of insights and ideas and feel motivated to make the move to change the world.

This is not a how-to book for creating a non-profit or social enterprise, but is a great introduction to social entrepreneurship. I recommend it as a starter read to understand the challenges of creating one, and to get inspired as to how you can overcome them.
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on May 28, 2013
Much has been written on the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship, but this slim volume says more about it than anything else I have read. It captures the essence of what it is the social entrepreneur does, and puts it in historical context, better than anything out there. These are two gifted writers melding their varied experiences and perspectives into something that can give grounding and direction to a new generation of social entrepreneurs. I give this book out to many people who pass through the doors of my office. I look forward to the follow up volume that tracks what has happened since publication of the original edition.
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