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5.0 out of 5 stars A few good people . . ., 20 Sep 2005
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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.
The book provides real examples of people who identified a problem, then set about to improve conditions that had come to be accepted by social inertia. His opening example, that of Fabio Ruiz of Palmares, demonstrates how effective one person can be. Ruiz, living in a depressed area in Brazil, discovered how greatly something most of us take for granted, electrical power, could influence a local economy. Ruiz observed the condition of the rice farmers in the state. A steady supply of water would allow growth of successful crops. Erratic natural supplies, often interdicted by highland farmers, meant turning to groundwater supplies. Groundwater means pumps and petrol-driven pumps were expensive. Ruiz instituted an inexpensive method of distributing electricity throughout the area. The farmers provided the minimal investment and performed much of the labour. As electrification spread, farmers produced steady crop returns, reaching a level that led to marketing co-ops and economic independence. The programme meant dealing with banks, bureaucracy and competiton. Ruiz and his associates doggedly promoted their success, finally seeing it adapted to other regions. It's an object lesson for many rural farmers in the developing world.
Drayton's methods require a draconian approach to assessing ideas, programmes and the people behind them. Once an idea is presented, the obstacles and restraints must be planned for. A good suggestion isn't enough. The people seeking Ashoka's support must demonstrate they can follow through and adapt to changing conditions or outright opposition. From Brazil, through Africa, into the Subcontinent of India and its neighbours, back through Europe and North America, his evalution teams are constantly assessing, inquiring, and selecting those individuals and their plans for improvement. Money, of course, must be stretched to the limit. Government funding is a bane to most NGOs, since too many conditions are generally tied to resource allocation. Drayton's entrepreneurs must demonstrate their proposals are good enough to use with local resources. Only that way can they be launched into a project with Ashoka support. These projects aren't limited to developing countries alone. Bornstein shows how these examples may be applied to any community feeling their social advancement is under restraint. The models are clearly spelled out in detail. The only thing lacking in your community is the individual who can clearly identify the problems and find innovative ways of implementing the solutions. Is that you? [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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5.0 out of 5 stars How to change the world book, 20 May 2013
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Excellent read, very inspiring for anyone in business or for people just interested in multinational companies that have changed the world.
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How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
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