Entrepreneur for Society

bill Drayton is the founder of Ashoka innovators for the public Ashoka works at the forefront of the rapidly growing field of social entrepreneurship it supports the work of entrepreneurs worldwide who solve social problems in far-reaching pattern changing ways our job is not to give people fish it's not to teach them how to fish it's to build a new and better fishing industry from modest beginnings in the early 1980s Ashoka has grown into a community of over 1,500 fellows supported by staff members partners and volunteers in over 50 countries 88% of the people we elect at the end of five years have had other institutions copy their ideas 59% of achieve national policy impact and on average they're serving 174 thousand people Bill Drayton has been a social entrepreneur all his life he shares his story to provide insights into what it takes to create widespread social change the development of Ashoka is very typical of the development of any major entrepreneurial venture the idea of course dates back at least at the time I was an undergraduate there was the challenge became very sharp once I had been in India you must close this north/south gap you must speed up development democracy in the world but so there are many things that were very clear but something was missing and that was that the historical moment wasn't ripe and also in our personal lives it wasn't ripe we needed to go through our apprenticeship I had to spend time at McKinsey learning how the world works learning the key skills of how you cause change then as I was at EPA we sense that the historical moment was coming you could hear the hinge creaking and what we were seeing very personally was that our friends my friends in India and elsewhere were starting to be social entrepreneurs and what was happening was that the post-independence generation in Asia was coming of professional age they were down their 30s their their parents thought getting control the government takeover those instruments that was the focus the next generation grew in an environment with these overpowering government institutions and some of them felt they could do better and so you could see the beginning of a very significant wave of social entrepreneurs who are having a very difficult time no word to describe the field no support institutions a lot of doubt fringing from their family to the government so no this looks like this is the time then we asked all right well how do we intervene where can you intervene which will have the biggest possible impact with very modest resources all we could imagine available to us at the time and that is the moment when you fit when a person and an idea have finished their apprenticeship and they know the person the entrepreneur knows that they have an idea that is the next big generic step for their field then all you want to do is go full-time and run with this idea sees the historical moment but who are you what is this idea it doesn't fit any of the existing patterns because they were set up to serve the old idea at that point a little bit makes all the difference very little money so you can look your family in the eye and say I know it's crazy to leave my tenured job in a nice safe institution you've got to be able to look them in the eye and say you know I'm gonna do this and we give you the financial ability to do that if you need it but beyond that you now are a part of a family of your peers and your uncle can see that these people that are very respected in your society and internationally think your work is important believe in you the early years of Ashoka as for almost all our fellows raising money was a nightmare no funding from any institutional foundation for our first six years basically the Klingon Steen Lipkin and golden families that was it and I was working part time at McKenzie commuting to New York Ashoka was going and it was just there's a very crazy time in it and that overload is what made the MacArthur a sudden phone call in November of 1984 you know miraculous MacArthur Foundation had chosen me to be one of its fellows which gave me five years income and also very importantly for people who could not understand what Ashoka was about gave me a sort of vaguely reputable category to fit into it was a very key liberating moment I was able to go on leave from McKinsey which I'm still technically on leave

  1. Thank you for this excellent overview on Ashika. The idea of closing the gaps and your progress is most exciting. Though I have been trying to keep up with social entrepreneurship and developing the entrepreneurial mindset, I somehow missed this work. As a supporter of Global Entrepreneurship Week I am particularly excited that this can educate young people around the world on how entrepreneurship can be a tool to help change the world.

    Shallie Bey
    Smarter Small Business Blog

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