Quote of the Week by George Bernard Shaw + 2 books by/for/about social entrepreneurs

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

A few good books by/for/about social entrepreneurs:

The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan

Economist Review:

The gist of the book is that established businesses should carefully watch—and be ready to invest in—various forms of social entrepreneurship, which tend to be good at spotting profitable opportunities in unlikely places, not least amongst poorer consumers at the so-called “bottom of the pyramid”. Mr Yunus has showed that even the poorest borrowers can be good customers, and as a result huge amounts of profit-seeking capital have flowed into the microfinance industry all over the world. Ms Hartigan and Mr Elkington reckon that social entrepreneurs will uncover other profitable new industries.
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In the early days, social entrepreneurs saw themselves as an alternative to business or government. Today, they want to be partners, seeing business and government as assets to be leveraged. This is probably a good thing, provided it does not dull their creativity or cause them to be more reasonable.

Rob Katz provides notable excerpts in his post over at NextBillion.net and finishes with this recommendation:

Do yourself a favor, and read the whole book. Some of the anecdotes will be familiar – that’s to be expected – and there’s not enough discussion of failure. But what Elkington and Hartigan have done here is more than a successor to David Bornstein’s How to Change the World. Rather, The Power of Unreasonable People is a call to action with blueprints included. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, be sure not to skip the conclusion – it’s worth the wait.

Paul Polak’s Out of Poverty


Duration: 2min 26sec [More videos available from YouTube user PaulPolak90Percent]

From Publisher’s Page:

In this hard-hitting new book, Paul Polak tells why traditional poverty eradication programs have fallen so short, and how he and his organization developed an alternative approach that has succeeded in lifting 17 million people out of poverty.

Based on his 25 years of experience, Polak explodes what he calls the “Three Great Poverty Eradication Myths”: that we can donate people out of poverty, that national economic growth will end poverty, and that Big Business, operating as it does now, will end poverty. Polak shows that programs based on these ideas have utterly failed—in fact, in sub-Saharan Africa poverty rates have actually gone up.

These failed top-down efforts contrast sharply with the grassroots approach Polak and IDE have championed: helping the dollar-a-day poor earn more money through their own efforts. Amazingly enough, unexploited market opportunities do exist for the desperately poor. Polak describes how he and others have identified these opportunities and have developed innovative, low-cost tools that have helped impoverished rural farmers use the market to improve their lives.

Hat-tip, Shawn F.

FYI: Congrats to IDE for receiving $27 M from the Gates Foundation.

See also Paul Polak on “Design for the Other 90%” [PopTech 2007]

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