Ashoka and the art of social entrepreneurship

On last night’s Global Business, the BBC’s Peter Day talked to one of the world’s pioneering social entrepreneurs, Bill Drayton, in a fascinating consideration of the rise of social entrepreneurship.

Among many thoughtful points, Drayton argued that business has dramatically outperformed civic society in productivity and finding solutions to social problems. While government has remained fundamentally monopolistic (ie, there are no competitors for its services), business has used entrepreneurial and competitive principles to make maximum social impact. This performance gap between the business and social sectors has existed for the past 300 years, argues Drayton, but is now being closed through the energetic collaboration of social entrepreneurs across the world.

This bit is, of course, a plug for Ashoka (named after Ashoka, the 3rd century BC Indian leader who unified the Indian subcontinent, renouncing violence and dedicating his life to social welfare and economic development), which brings together more than 2,000 social entrepreneurs across the world. 

His big point is, however, powerful and one that Real Business has been arguing over the past few years: that entrepreneurialism has the power to change; directed at social issues within which they can see a business return, entrepreneurs tend to deliver powerful, usually positive, results.

Rather than watch Dragons’ Den this week, why not download the Global Business podcast here? Your time will be better spent…

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