Transcript: David Bornstein on The Emergence of Social Entrepreneurship | May 28, 2005

David Borstein stands behind a wooden lectern on a small stage in a classically decorated great hall. He addresses an audience of about 100 people.
David is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, yellow shirt, and pale blue tie.

He says ABOUT--
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I HAD AN
EXPERIENCE THAT HAS HAD A
LASTING IMPACT ON ME.
I TOOK PART IN A WEEKEND
PROGRAM, A WORKSHOP DESIGNED TO
HELP 40 LOW INCOME HIGH SCHOOL
STUDENTS ATTEND COLLEGE, A
REACH COLLEGE.
THE WORKSHOP WAS HELD ON A
COLLEGE CAMPUS IN COLORADO.
MY JOB WAS TO SERVE AS A
WRITING COACH AND HELP FIVE
STUDENTS WRITE COLLEGE
ADMISSION ESSAYS THAT WOULD
REVEAL THEM AS WHOLE PEOPLE,
NOT JUST NUMBERS ON A
TRANSCRIPT.
IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE
WORKSHOP, I HADN'T DONE
ANYTHING TO PREPARE FOR IT.
MY BACKGROUND CERTAINLY DIDN'T
PREPARE ME FOR IT.
I GREW UP IN A MIDDLE CLASS
SUBURB IN MONTREAL.
BEFORE BECOMING A WRITER, AS
JOANNA MENTIONED, I WORKED AS A
COMPUTER PROGRAMMER.
I'VE WRITTEN ABOUT POVERTY IN A
LOT OF PLACES, BUT I'VE NEVER
ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED IT MYSELF.
SO I HAD DOUBTS ABOUT MY
ABILITY TO CONNECT TO FIVE
INNER CITY TEENAGERS.
BUT THE ORGANISATION IN CHARGE,
WHICH WAS CALLED COLLEGE
SUMMIT, WHICH HAD BEEN FOUNDED
BY A FORMER DIVINITY STUDENT
NAMED J.B. SCHRAMM, TOLD ME
THAT ALL I HAD TO DO WAS SHOW UP.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "David Bornstein. Writer. So you want to change the world? The emergence of social entrepreneurship and the rise of the citizen sector. Hart House. U of T. March 23, 2005."

David continues I WAS TO
BEGIN WORKING WITH THE STUDENTS
ON A FRIDAY MORNING.
ON THURSDAY, AT ABOUT 11 P.M.
AFTER A FOUR HOUR CRASH
TRAINING PROGRAM IN COLLEGE
SUMMIT'S CURRICULUM, I MET MY
STUDENTS, THREE BOYS AND TWO
GIRLS, FOUR WERE AFRICAN
AMERICAN AND ONE WAS SAMOAN.
THE BOYS LITERALLY TOWERED OVER ME --
NOT HARD TO DO.
I LATER LEARNED THAT THEY HAD
ALL GROWN UP IN VIOLENT
NEIGHBOURHOODS IN LOS ANGELES
AND DENVER, AND THAT ONE OF THE
GIRLS HAD SEEN HER SISTER
MURDERED IN A DRIVE BY
SHOOTING.
I SAID HELLO, AND THE TEENAGERS
MUMBLED AND STARED AT THEIR
FEET.
WE HAD FIVE MINUTES TOGETHER
BEFORE WE HAD TO GO TO SLEEP,
PLENTY OF TIME FOR ME TO
REALISE I WAS IN WAY OVER MY
HEAD.
I FELT SO STRESSED, I DIDN'T
FALL ASLEEP UNTIL 3 A.M.
EARLY THE NEXT MORNING, I MET
WITH MY STUDENTS AGAIN, AND
TOGETHER WE TOOK A WALK ACROSS
THE CAMPUS TO OUR ASSIGNED
ROOM.
IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL SUMMER DAY,
AND PASSING THE LIBRARY, THE
GRASSY LAWNS, I WAS HIT WITH A
LONGING TO RETURN TO COLLEGE.
WHEN WE GOT TO THE CLASS, I
DOVE INTO THE WRITING WORK, AND
WITHIN AN HOUR, A SENSE OF
PANIC BEGAN TO ARISE WITHIN ME.
THE STUDENTS WERE GUARDED,
THEIR WRITING WAS HORRIBLE,
HORRIBLY DULL.
I SAID TO MYSELF, THIS IS NEVER
GOING TO WORK.
BUT COLLEGE SUMMIT HAD BEEN
HONING ITS WORKSHOPS FOR SIX
YEARS, AND THE NIGHT BEFORE,
I'D BEEN TOLD REPEATEDLY, DON'T
WORRY, TRUST THE PROCESS.
SO I DID.
THAT MORNING WAS VERY PAINFUL,
THEN SOMETHING SHIFTED IN THE
AFTERNOON, AND BY THE FOLLOWING
DAY, THE ROOM HAD A NEW FEEL.
BY SUNDAY, MY FIVE STUDENTS HAD
PRODUCED FIVE ESSAYS.
THEY WEREN'T ESSAYS FREE OF
GRAMMATICAL ERRORS, BUT THEY
WERE AUTHENTIC PIECES OF
WRITING, DRAWN FROM THEIR LIFE
EXPERIENCES, THAT GAVE A RICH
SENSE OF WHO THEY WERE.
THESE WERE ESSAYS THAT WOULD,
AT THE VERY LEAST, CATCH THE
ATTENTION OF A COLLEGE
ADMISSION REVIEWER.
I WAS TOTALLY ASTONISHED AT HOW
FAR WE HAD COME IN THREE DAYS.
WHEN I RETURNED HOME TO NEW
YORK CITY AFTER THAT, I FOUND
MYSELF LOOKING DIFFERENTLY AT
THE TEENAGERS HOLDING COURT ON
THE SIDEWALKS IN NEW YORK.
I DISCOVERED THAT I HAD AN
EASIER TIME IMAGINING WHERE
THEY CAME FROM, AND WHAT
STORIES THEY MIGHT TELL IF
SOMEBODY WOULD LISTEN.
BEFORE THAT WEEKEND, I HAD
NEVER THOUGHT MUCH ABOUT HOW
MUCH ABILITY IS TRAPPED BENEATH
THE SURFACE OF OUR SOCIETY.
THERE ARE 200,000 LOW INCOME
STUDENTS WHO GRADUATE FROM U.S.
HIGH SCHOOLS EACH YEAR, WHO,
ACCORDING TO THE GOVERNMENT,
ARE CAPABLE OF SUCCEEDING IN
COLLEGE, BUT WHO FAIL TO ENROL.
IN CANADA, ONLY ABOUT 20 percent OF
STUDENTS WITH FAMILY INCOMES OF
25,000 OR LESS, ATTEND COLLEGE.
THAT WEEKEND, WITH COLLEGE
SUMMIT MADE ME SEE THAT THERE'S
NO REASON WHY THIS SHOULD BE
THE CASE.
THERE'S NO REASON WHY SO MANY
YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD END UP
MARGINALISED.
I SAW THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO
CREATE PROCESSES, RELATIVELY
SIMPLE PROCESSES THAT UNLEASH
TALENT AND AMBITION, AND THAT
DO IT SYSTEMATICALLY.
SINCE THEN I'VE SERVED AS A
WRITING COACH TWO MORE TIMES.
I'VE SPOKEN WITH DOZENS OF
OTHERS, INCLUDING MY WIFE,
WHO'S DONE IT FOUR TIMES, AND
IN ALMOST EVERY CASE, THE
EXPERIENCE IS THE SAME, THE
MAGIC IS REPEATED.
MY POINT IS NOT TO EXPLAIN HOW
COLLEGE SUMMIT WORKS.
THERE ARE MANY ASPECTS OF ITS
APPROACH THAT I HAVEN'T
MENTIONED.
MY POINT IS TO EXPLAIN THAT IT
DOES WORK, AND IT WORKS AT
SCALE.
SOMEHOW, COLLEGE SUMMIT HAS
DEVELOPED A PROCESS, A SORT OF
SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY THAT GETS
THOUSANDS OF LOW INCOME
STUDENTS INTO COLLEGE AT MUCH
HIGHER RATES THAN ONE WOULD
EXPECT, ALMOST 75 percent HIGHER THAN
THE NATIONAL AVERAGE FOR THEIR
PEERS.
THERE'S ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF A
SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY.
THERE'S AN ORGANISATION IN
POLAND CALLED BARKA, WHICH
MEANS ARC.
IT RUNS A NETWORK OF HOMES IN
WHICH FORMER PRISON INMATES,
RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS AND
RECENTLY HOMELESS PEOPLE LIVE
AND WORK TOGETHER, SHARING
RESPONSIBILITIES AND CO-
MANAGING BUSINESSES.
YOU WOULD ALL BE CORRECT IN
THINKING THAT THIS SOUNDS LIKE
A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
REALLY, WHO, IN THIS DAY AND
AGE WOULD THINK THAT YOU CAN
BRING TOGETHER A GROUP OF SO-
CALLED UNDESIRABLES, GIVE THEM
RESPONSIBILITIES FOR TAKING
CARE OF THEMSELVES AND FOR ONE
ANOTHER, AND CREATE A CO-
OPERATIVE LIVING ARRANGEMENT
THAT ACTUALLY WORKS.
WHEN BARKA BEGAN, PEOPLE TOLD
ITS FOUNDERS, TWO PSYCHOLOGISTS
NAMED BARBARA AND THOMASZ
SADOWSKI, THAT THEY MIGHT BE
ABLE TO RUN ONE OF THESE HOMES
SUCCESSFULLY, MAYBE TWO, BUT NO
MORE.
PEOPLE SAID IT DEPENDED TOO
MUCH ON THEIR CHARISMA.
BUT TODAY, THERE ARE 20 OF
THESE HOUSES, AND THE SADOWSKIS
ARE NO LONGER SUPERVISING THEM
DIRECTLY, AND THE SOCIAL
FRANCHISE THAT THEY HAVE BUILT,
CONTINUES TO EXPAND TO OTHER
PARTS OF EUROPE.
SOMEHOW, BARKA HAS CREATED, OUT OF THE
ASHES OF COMMUNISM, A SYSTEM OF
MUTUAL SUPPORT THAT ALLOWS
PEOPLE TO FREE THEMSELVES FROM
A KIND OF SELF-IMPOSED
CAPTIVITY.
THIS SYSTEM IS NOT BUILT ON
RULES, BUT ON A CULTURE OF EMPATHY.
IT IS INFORMED BY HUMOUR, FLEXIBLE
THINKING, AND A GOOD NATURED
ACCEPTANCE OF HUMAN WEAKNESS.
AND IT ALSO WORKS AT SCALE.
I MENTIONED THAT BARKA IS BUILT
ON EMPATHY.
EMPATHY, I'VE DISCOVERED, IS A
KIND OF SKELETON KEY THAT
UNLOCKS MANY DOORS AND
SHACKLES.
BECAUSE IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY AT
COLLEGE SUMMIT, YOU'LL FIND
THAT ITS WORKSHOPS ALSO
STIMULATE EMPATHY, AND THAT IS,
I THINK, WHY THE STUDENTS
BECOME UNCHAINED SO QUICKLY IN
THAT ENVIRONMENT.
IN TOURNAMENT, YOU HAVE AN
ORGANISATION CALLED, ROOTS OF
EMPATHY, FOUNDED BY A
REMARKABLE EDUCATOR NAMED MARY
GORDON, WHO IS HERE TONIGHT,
WHICH HELPS CHILDREN MASTER
THIS SKILL OF EMPATHY.
ROOTS OF EMPATHY HAS ASSISTED
ALMOST 70,000 STUDENTS RANGING
IN AGE FROM 3 TO 13.
TODAY THERE ARE MORE THAN 1,100
CLASSROOMS ACROSS CANADA
RUNNING THE PROGRAM, AND THE
MODEL HAS BEEN ADOPTED IN JAPAN
AND AUSTRALIA.
THE IDEA IS DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE.
ONCE A MONTH DURING THE SCHOOL
YEAR, CHILDREN RECEIVE A
CLASSROOM VISIT FROM A BABY,
ALONG WITH THE BABY'S PARENT,
AND A ROOTS OF EMPATHY
INSTRUCTOR.
ROOTS OF EMPATHY CALLS THE BABY
THE PROFESSOR.
DURING EACH VISIT, THE SCHOOL
CHILDREN TRY TO MAKE SENSE OF
THE BABY'S SOUNDS AND
MOVEMENTS.
THE INSTRUCTOR MEETS WITH THE
CLASS BEFORE AND AFTER EACH OF
THE BABY'S NINE VISITS TO
PREPARE AND THEN TO DEBRIEF THE
STUDENTS.
AND THROUGH THESE 27 MEETINGS,
OVER THE COURSE OF THE SCHOOL
YEAR, THE CHILDREN LEARN TO
THINK ABOUT THE MEANING OF A
BABY'S CRY, ABOUT CARING AND
SAFETY AND GOODBYES AND GOOD
WISHES.
MOST IMPORTANT, THEY LEARN TO
RECOGNISE AND NAME OTHER
PEOPLE'S FEELINGS, WHICH HELPS
THEM TO MANAGE THEIR OWN.
STUDIES WHICH HAVE BEEN
UNDERTAKEN BY THE UNIVERSITY OF
BRITISH COLUMBIA, HAVE SHOWN
THAT THESE EXPERIENCES IMPROVE
THE STUDENTS' UNDERSTANDING
ABOUT EMOTIONS AND SOCIAL
SITUATIONS, AND LEAD TO LESS
AGGRESSION AND LESS BULLYING.
COLLEGE SUMMIT, BARKA AND ROOTS
OF EMPATHY, ARE THREE EXAMPLES
OF THE KINDS OF CREATIVE
SOLUTIONS THAT ARE EMERGING
AROUND THE WORLD TODAY BY THE
THOUSANDS.
THEY ARE SOLUTIONS CRAFTED BY
CITIZENS.
THEY'RE WHAT WE CAN CALL SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURS WHO HAVE TAKEN IT
UPON THEMSELVES TO BUILD
STRUCTURES THAT REPAIR SOCIETY.
THE GROWTH OF SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS ONE OF THE
LEAST UNDERSTOOD AND MOST
IMPORTANT FORCES IN THE WORLD
TODAY, I THINK.
I BELIEVE THAT IF WE COME TO
RECOGNISE THE ROLE OF
INNOVATORS LIKE J.B. SCHRAMM,
MARY GORDON, AND BARBARA AND
THOMASZ SADOWSKI, AND THE
PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH THEM, AND
IF WE PROPERLY SUPPORT THEIR
EFFORTS, WHICH WE CURRENTLY DO
NOT DO, WE WOULD SEE STUNNING
IMPROVEMENTS IN OUR ABILITY TO
SOLVE MAJOR SOCIAL PROBLEMS.
MY OWN UNDERSTANDING ABOUT
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP BEGAN
IN THE EARLY 1990s, WHEN I
STARTED RESEARCHING MY BOOK ON
THE GRAMEEN BANK.
THE GRAMEEN BANK MEANS THE
VILLAGE BANK.
I HAD BEEN WORKING AS A
JOURNALIST IN NEW YORK CITY
WHEN I CAME UPON AN ARTICLE
ABOUT THE BANK IN BANGLADESH,
AND IT SAID IT MADE ONLY LOANS
TO POOR VILLAGERS, AND ALMOST
EXCLUSIVELY TO WOMEN.
THE LOANS WERE TINY, ABOUT 60 dollars
A YEAR ON AVERAGE, AND THE
WOMEN PAID THEM BACK IN
INSTALMENTS OF 1 dollar 20 A WEEK.
THE REPAYMENT RATES WERE VERY
HIGH.
AT THE TIME, THE GRAMEEN BANK,
THIS WAS 1991, HAD A HALF A
MILLION BORROWERS.
TYPICALLY A WOMAN WOULD USE HER
LOAN TO PURCHASE A COW OR
BAMBOO, OR PERHAPS A RICKSHAW
FOR HER HUSBAND.
WITH THE INCOME SHE EARNED
SELLING MILK OR BY
MANUFACTURING SMALL PRODUCTS,
SHE WOULD PAY OFF THE LOAN.
AND AT THE END OF THE YEAR, SHE
WOULD BE THE OWNER OF A COW OR
A RICKSHAW, OR SOME OTHER
VALUABLE ASSET, AND THEN SHE
WOULD DO IT AGAIN.
AND THROUGH THIS PROCESS, OVER
TIME, BORROWERS WOULD MOVE FROM
VERY OPPRESSIVE POVERTY, EATING
ONE OR TWO MEALS A DAY, TO LESS
OPPRESSIVE POVERTY, EATING
THREE MEALS A DAY, HAVING A
VEGETABLE GARDEN, AND BEING
ABLE TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO
SCHOOL.
I REMEMBER VIVIDLY, WALKING
ALONG MORTON STREET IN
GREENWICH VILLAGE ON A SPRING
MORNING IN 1991, WHEN IT STRUCK
ME THAT I WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE
TO GO TO BANGLADESH TO SEE THIS
FOR MYSELF.
I HAD TO GO BACK TO MY COMPUTER
PROGRAMMING JOB FOR SIX MONTHS
TO SAVE THE MONEY FOR THE TRIP,
WHICH GAVE ME PLENTY OF TIME TO
READ EVERYTHING I COULD GET MY
HANDS ON ABOUT THE GRAMEEN
BANK.
AND I KEPT ON COMING ACROSS
REFERENCES TO THE BANK AS A
KIND OF DEVELOPMENT MIRACLE.
BUT AFTER I ARRIVED IN
BANGLADESH, I SAW THAT IT
WASN'T A MIRACLE AT ALL, IT WAS
SOMETHING MUCH BETTER.
IT WAS A SYSTEM.
IT WAS A SYSTEM THAT HAD TURNED
THE IDEA OF A BANK ON ITS HEAD.
BECAUSE THE GRAMEEN BANK ONLY
LENDS MONEY TO THE POOREST HALF
OF THE PEOPLE IN BANGLADESH,
AND IT REQUIRES NO COLLATERAL.
AND I DISCOVERED SOMETHING
ELSE, THE BANK IS ACTUALLY
OWNED BY THE VILLAGERS
THEMSELVES.
TODAY, IF YOU ATTEND A BOARD
MEETING OF THE GRAMEEN BANK, AN
INSTITUTION WHICH HAS LENT MORE
THAN 4 BILLION dollars, YOU'LL FIND
THAT NINE OF THE DIRECTORS
SITTING AROUND THE BOARDROOM
TABLE ARE VILLAGE WOMEN.
I ENDED UP SPENDING TEN MONTHS
IN BANGLADESH, AND ANOTHER FOUR
YEARS WRITING A BOOK.
BY THE TIME THE BOOK WAS DONE, THE BANK HAD
GROWN FROM HALF A MILLION
BORROWERS, TO 2 MILLION
BORROWERS.
TODAY IT HAS MORE THAN 4 MILLION.
95 percent OF THEM ARE STILL WOMEN.
BUT MORE IMPORTANT, THE GRAMEEN
BANK HAS ADVANCED AN IDEA WHICH
HAS SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD.
TODAY, THERE ARE MORE THAN
3,000 ORGANISATIONS ENGAGED IN
MICRO-CREDIT LENDING, AND THEY
REACH MORE THAN 70 MILLION
FAMILIES, WHICH IS ABOUT 350
MILLION PEOPLE WHO ARE DIRECTLY AFFECTED.
MOST OF THIS
GROWTH, IN FACT ALMOST ALL OF
THIS GROWTH HAS OCCURRED IN THE
PAST SEVEN YEARS.
THIS IS A VERY DRAMATIC SOCIAL
CHANGE.
I'D LIKE TO PUT IT INTO
PERSPECTIVE.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT TENS OF
MILLIONS OF POOR FAMILIES ARE
NOW ENJOYING ACCESS TO CREDIT
AT A FAIR PRICE.
CONSIDER WHAT CREDIT MEANS IN
OUR LIVES.
HOW DO WE BUY OUR CARS AND OUR
HOUSES, HOW DO WE BUY OUR
COLLEGE EDUCATIONS?
WE BUY THEM IN INSTALMENTS.
WE DON'T PAY FOR THEM IN
ADVANCE.
IF WE HAD TO DO THAT, MANY OF
US COULD NEVER AFFORD THEM.
WE TAKE IT FOR GRANTED, BUT THE
ABILITY TO BUY THINGS IN
INSTALMENTS IS ESSENTIAL TO
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL
CHANGE.
IT'S A CRITICAL PART OF OUR
FREEDOM AND IT'S A CRITICAL
PART OF OUR ABILITY TO MOVE
BEYOND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR
BIRTHS.
BUT MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD
STILL DON'T HAVE THIS OPTION.
WHEN I WAS IN BANGLADESH, I MET
MEN WHO HAD BEEN PEDALLING
RICKSHAWS FOR A LIVING FOR 20
YEARS, AND THEY STILL HADN'T
BECOME THE OWNERS OF THOSE
RICKSHAWS.
MOST OF THEIR DAILY PROFITS
WENT INTO SOMEONE ELSE'S
STOMACH.
IF A MAN'S WIFE JOINS THE
GRAMEEN BANK, SHE CAN TAKE OUT
A LOAN, BUY A SECOND HAND
RICKSHAW, AND THEY CAN PAY IT
OFF IN A YEAR.
THEN THEY CAN DO IT AGAIN THE
FOLLOWING YEAR.
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE DONE
JUST THAT.
THE ABILITY TO BUY THINGS IN
INSTALMENTS ENABLES ALL SORTS
OF RADICAL CHANGES, BUT IN
QUIET WAYS, WITHOUT THE OFTEN
EMPTY SLOGANS OF REVOLUTIONS.
FOR EXAMPLE, THE GRAMEEN BANK
HAS EXTENDED 600,000 HOME
MORTGAGES TO BANGLADESHI
FAMILIES WHO PAY OFF THEIR
HOUSES OVER 10 OR 15 YEARS, AT
THE RATE OF 1 dollar A WEEK.
THE HOUSES HAVE CORRUGATED TIN
ROOFS, CEMENT ROOFS AND PIT
LATRINES.
THEY STAY DRY DURING THE
MONSOONS, WHICH MEANS THAT THE
FAMILIES STAY HEALTHIER
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
EVERY ONE OF THESE HOUSES, AS
WELL AS THE LAND BENEATH THE
HOUSES, ACCORDING TO THE RULES
OF THE GRAMEEN BANK, MUST BE
REGISTERED IN THE WIFE'S NAME.
IN THE CONTEXT OF BANGLADESH,
THIS IS ALSO A RADICAL CHANGE.
THE GRAMEEN BANK ALSO TODAY
LEASES CELL PHONES TO 100,000
VILLAGE PHONE LADIES WHO
SUPPORT THEMSELVES BY SELLING
CALLS TO OTHER VILLAGERS, AND
THIS IDEA HAS SPREAD TO OTHER
COUNTRIES.
IN MEXICO NOW, A VERY LARGE
CEMENT COMPANY IS USING THE
VERY SAME PRINCIPLE TO HELP
SLUM DWELLERS BUILD THEIR OWN
HOUSES.
THE COMPANY IS EXCITED BECAUSE
IT'S GETTING TO SELL A LOT MORE
CEMENT, AND THE VILLAGERS ARE
EXCITED, BECAUSE THEY'RE
GETTING-- THE SLUM DWELLERS ARE
GETTING TO BUILD THEIR OWN
HOUSES.
IN BRAZIL, I MET A SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEUR NAMED FABIO ROSA
WHO RENTS SOLAR PANELS TO POOR
VILLAGERS.
THE MONTHLY FEE FOR THE PANEL
IS LESS THAN WHAT THE VILLAGERS
USED TO PAY FOR CANDLES,
BATTERIES AND KEROSENE.
THERE ARE ABOUT 2 BILLION
PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO STILL
DON'T HAVE ELECTRICITY.
ABOUT 1 third OF THE PLANET.
AND ABOUT A BILLON OF THEM,
COULD AFFORD SOLAR ENERGY IF
THEY COULD RENT IT, OR PAY IT
OFF IN INSTALMENTS.
IF THESE FAMILIES COULD MAKE
THE SWITCH FROM KEROSENE TO
SOLAR POWER, THEIR CHILDREN
WOULDN'T HAVE TO BREATHE IN THE
SMOKE FROM GAS LAMPS EVERY
NIGHT, TO NAME ONE CHANGE.
IT WOULD ALSO CUT DOWN ON
GLOBAL WARMING.
BUT THESE SYSTEMS HAVE TO BE
BUILT, AND TO BUILD THEM TAKES
REMARKABLE VISION AND
INITIATIVE AND VERY STRONG
MOTIVATION.
I WAS RECENTLY IN SOUTHEAST
ASIA, WHERE I LEARNED THAT TENS
OF THOUSANDS OF SURVIVORS OF
THE TSUNAMI ARE STILL WAITING
IN VAIN FOR THE RELIEF TO REACH
THEM.
IN THE MEANTIME, MANY OF THEM
HAVE BEGUN TAKING OUT LOANS TO
GET BACK ON THEIR FEET.
NOT LONG AGO, THE ONLY SOURCE
OF CREDIT FOR A POOR FAMILY IN
SRI LANKA WOULD HAVE BEEN A
LOAN SHARK WHO MIGHT CHARGE 20 percent
INTEREST A MONTH.
NOW A POOR WOMAN FISH VENDOR IN
SRI LANKA CAN TAKE OUT A 600 dollar
LOAN TO PURCHASE A VEHICLE TO
TRANSPORT HER FISH.
SHE'S PAYING 6 percent A YEAR, AND SHE
GETS A 1 YEAR GRACE PERIOD.
THAT'S ONLY SLIGHTLY HIGHER
THAN MY HOME MORTGAGE, AND A
LOT LOWER THAN THE INTEREST I
PAY ON MY CREDIT CARDS,
UNFORTUNATELY.
OF COURSE IT WOULD BE NICE IF
THE RELIEF ACTUALLY REACHED THE
INTENDED RECIPIENTS, BUT TO ME,
IT'S FASCINATING TO SEE HOW THE
MICRO CREDIT REVOLUTION
CONTINUES TO RIPPLE OUTWARD,
EXPANDING OPTIONS FOR POOR
PEOPLE.
WHO CREATED THE GRAMEEN BANK?
WHEN I WENT TO BANGLADESH,
INITIALLY I IMAGINED THAT THE
GOVERNMENT BUILT IT, OR PERHAPS
A DEVELOPMENT AGENCY.
BUT THROUGH MY RESEARCH I
DISCOVERED THAT THE BANK HAD
BEEN FOUNDED BY AN INDIVIDUAL,
AN ECONOMICS PROFESSOR NAMED
MUHAMMAD YUNUS.
YUNUS IS A CREATIVE AND BOLD
THINKER WHO HAS SPENT THE LAST
30 YEARS SPREADING THE IDEA
RELENTLESSLY AROUND THE WORLD.
HE COULD HAVE BECOME A WEALTHY
BUSINESSMAN.
HE HAS ALL THE TALENTS, AND AT
ONE POINT, IN FACT, HE STARTED
HIS OWN BUSINESS, AND HE DID
VERY WELL FOR HIMSELF.
BUT IN 1974,
A FAMINE STRUCK BANGLADESH, AND
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VILLAGERS
STARVED TO DEATH.
AFTER THAT SOMETHING SHIFTED IN
HIM, AND HE BECAME SINGLE-
MINDEDLY OBSESSED WITH
ALLEVIATING POVERTY.
TODAY HE
SPEAKS CONTINUALLY OF BUILDING
A WORLD IN WHICH OUR
GRANDCHILDREN WILL HAVE TO GO
TO MUSEUMS TO SEE WHAT POVERTY WAS.
WHEN I FINISHED MY BOOK ON THE
GRAMEEN BANK, I SAW THAT IT WAS
ACTUALLY POSSIBLE TO SOLVE
PROBLEMS THAT I ALWAYS THOUGHT
WERE INTRACTABLE.
I ALSO SAW THAT THE BEST WAY TO
PRODUCE INNOVATIVE PROBLEM
SOLVING ORGANISATIONS LIKE THE
GRAMEEN BANK WOULD BE TO FIND
AND SUPPORT THE PEOPLE WHO
DEVOTE THEIR LIVES TO BUILDING
THEM, LIKE MUHAMMAD YUNUS.
SHORTLY AFTER THAT, I MET A MAN
NAMED BILL DRAYTON, AN
AMERICAN, WHO HAD BUILT A
REMARKABLE ORGANISATION CALLED
ASHOKA.
ASHOKA SEARCHES THE GLOBE FOR
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS IN ORDER
TO HELP THEM ALONG.
IT HAS SUPPORTED MORE THAN
1,500 INNOVATORS IN 53
COUNTRIES AND PROVIDED THEM
WITH FINANCING AND CONNECTING
THEM INTO FELLOWSHIPS SO THAT
THEY CAN SHARE THEIR IDEAS.
WHEN I HEARD ABOUT ASHOKA, I
WAS CAPTIVATED BY THE IDEA OF
THIS GLOBAL FELLOWSHIP OF
ETHICAL CHANGE MAKERS.
IT REMINDED ME OF A SORT OF
MODERN DAY VERSION OF THE
KNIGHTS TEMPLAR, AND I
WONDERED, WHAT WERE ALL THESE
PEOPLE DOING?
SO I SPENT THE NEXT 15 MONTHS
DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL FOR A
BOOK ABOUT SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURS, GETTING A
PUBLISHING DEAL AND RAISING
FUNDING FOR THE RESEARCH.
AND THEN I SPENT THE NEXT FOUR
YEARS INTERVIEWING MORE THAN
100 SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS IN
EIGHT COUNTRIES.
AND I CAME AWAY FROM THAT
EXPERIENCE WITH A VIEW OF THE
WORLD THAT WAS STUNNINGLY
DIFFERENT FROM THE PICTURE I
GOT FROM THE NEWS.
RATHER THAN A WORLD FILLED WITH
TERRORISTS AND CELEBRITY
CRIMINALS AND POLITICAL
HUCKSTERS, I GOT A GLIMPSE OF A
VAST NEW SECTOR EMERGING AROUND
THE WORLD, IN WHICH LITERALLY
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE BUILDING
ORGANISATIONS AND ADVANCING
IDEAS THAT ARE RESHAPING THEIR
SOCIETIES.
SPEAKING WITH THESE PROBLEM
SOLVERS, I WAS STRUCK BY THE
SIMILARITY IN THEIR STORIES.
IN MOST CASES, THEY HAD SPENT
THE EARLY YEARS WORKING IN
OBSCURITY, WITH LITTLE FUNDING,
NO SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT, NO
MEDIA ATTENTION.
TYPICALLY THEIR WORK HAD GROWN
OUT OF DIRECT CONTACT WITH
PEOPLE WHO WERE SUFFERING, AND
A DESIRE TO HELP THOSE PEOPLE.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE CASE OF
MUHAMMAD YUNUS, HE GOT THE IDEA
AFTER HE MET A WOMAN WHO WAS
FORCED TO BEG BECAUSE SHE WAS
BEING TERRIBLY EXPLOITED BY A
MONEYLENDER.
IN WASHINGTON D.C., J.B.
SCHRAMM, THE FOUNDER OF COLLEGE
SUMMIT, COULDN'T STAND TO SEE
ANOTHER GROUP OF TEENAGERS WHO
WERE PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF
SUCCEEDING IN COLLEGE, END UP
ON THE STREETS IN SEPTEMBER,
WITH THEIR TALENT AND THEIR
DREAMS WASTING AWAY.
ALWAYS THE INITIAL RESPONSE OF
THESE SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS WAS
VERY MODEST.
THE GRAMEEN BANK'S INITIAL
LOANS TO ITS FIRST 42
BORROWERS, TOTALLED 26 dollars.
J.B. SCHRAMM BEGAN BY HELPING
FOUR TEENAGERS INTO COLLEGE.
BUT OVER THE TIME, THEY KEPT
LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO
INCREASE THE IMPACT OF THEIR
WORK, AND AS THEY TOOK MORE
ACTION, THEIR CAPACITY TO CAUSE
CHANGE ALSO GREW.
IN TIME OTHERS BEGAN COPYING
THEM, AND IN MANY CASES, THEIR
WORK BEGAN TO SHIFT THE BASIC
ASSUMPTIONS IN THEIR FIELD,
CAUSING A SYSTEMIC CHANGE.
SOME OF THESE SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURS, AFTER 10 OR 15
YEARS, HAD ACTUALLY AFFECTED
REFORMS AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL
IN THEIR COUNTRIES.
I THOUGHT AGAIN, WHY HAVE I NOT
HEARD ABOUT THESE PEOPLE?
THEN I BEGAN SCOURING BOOKS AND
I DISCOVERED THAT HISTORY WAS
FULL OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS,
TOO, BUT WE HAD NEVER THOUGHT
OF THEM THIS WAY.
PEOPLE LIKE ROLAND HILL, WHO
CREATED THE MODERN POSTAL
SYSTEM, AND FLORENCE
NIGHTINGALE WHO REVOLUTIONISED
HEALTH CARE PRACTICES AND
PROFESSIONALIZED THE FIELD OF NURSING.
AND EVEN GHANDI, WHO IS REMEMBERED FOR
HIS SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, BUT
WAS ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR
DESIGNING AND BUILDING THE
POLITICAL STRUCTURES THAT
ENABLED INDIA TO MAKE A
SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION FROM
COLONIAL TO SELF RULE.
ALL OF THEM WERE SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURS, BOTH IN METHOD
AND IN TEMPERAMENT.
WHILE I WAS WORKING ON THIS
BOOK, MY FATHER HAD A BRAIN
ANEURISM AND HIS LIFE WAS SAVED
BY A SEVEN HOUR OPERATION AT
THE MONTREAL NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE.
I STARTED WONDERING HOW WE GOT THIS
HOSPITAL IN THE FIRST PLACE.
AND I DISCOVERED THAT I OWED
THANKS FOR MY FATHER'S LIFE TO
THE PHYSICIAN AND SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEUR, WILDER PENFIELD,
WHO HAD THE VISION 70 YEARS
AGO, TO BUILD A WORLD CLASS
NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE IN
MONTREAL.
I SAW THAT SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
HAD BEEN AROUND FOR CENTURIES
BUT THAT THEIR GLOBAL PRESENCE
WAS ON THE RISE.
OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS, THERE
HAS BEEN AN EXPLOSION OF
CITIZEN ACTIVITY AROUND THE
WORLD.
NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER
HAPPENED BEFORE.
BILL DRAYTON, THE FOUNDER OF
ASHOKA, HAS COINED THE TERM
CITIZEN SECTOR TO DESCRIBE THIS
EXPANDING PRESENCE.
IN THE SIX YEARS FOLLOWING THE
FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL, FOR
EXAMPLE, MORE THAN 100,000 NEW
ORGANISATIONS, NEW SOCIAL
ORGANISATIONS WERE ESTABLISHED
IN THE FORMER COMMUNIST
COUNTRIES OF CENTRAL EUROPE.
SINCE THE EARLY '90s, HUNDREDS
OF THOUSANDS OF NEW
ORGANISATIONS HAVE BEEN
ESTABLISHED IN CANADA AND THE
UNITED STATES.
WE ALMOST NEVER HEAR ABOUT
THEM.
IN INDIA, THERE ARE MORE THAN A
MILLION SOCIAL ORGANISATIONS
THAT HAVE BEEN FOUNDED SINCE
THE LATE '70s.
THE SAME PATTERN HOLDS FOR
BRAZIL, THAILAND, SOUTH AFRICA,
INDONESIA, SCORES OF OTHER
COUNTRIES.
I BEGAN TO SEE THAT THE MOST
CREATIVE AND MOST PRACTICAL
IDEAS ABOUT HOW TO IMPROVE
SOCIETY, HOW TO ALLEVIATE
POVERTY, HOW TO HELP DISABLED
PEOPLE LIVE INDEPENDENTLY, HOW
TO DELIVER ELECTRICITY TO
VILLAGERS, HOW TO TEACH
EMPATHY, WERE NOT IN
GOVERNMENTS, THEY WEREN'T IN
UNIVERSITIES, AND THEY WEREN'T
IN BIG DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES.
THEY WERE IN THE HANDS OF THE
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS, DISPERSED
ACROSS THE PLANET, LARGELY
UNDER-FUNDED, AND IN MANY
CASES, UNKNOWN.
CUMULATIVELY, THESE MILLIONS OF
PEOPLE WORKING TO SHAPE THEIR
SOCIETIES REPRESENT A MAJOR
FORCE, PERHAPS EVEN MORE
POWERFUL THAN OUR GOVERNMENTS,
MORE POWERFUL THAN OUR PRIME
MINISTERS AND OUR PRESIDENTS.
VACLAV HAVEL HAS WRITTEN THAT
EDUCATION GIVES US THE ABILITY
TO PERCEIVE THE HIDDEN
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PHENOMENA.
A FRIEND OF MINE ONCE HAD THE
OPPORTUNITY TO ASK MIKHAIL
GORBACHEV WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN
THE DEMISE OF COMMUNISM.
GORBACHEV DIDN'T MENTION STAR
WARS, HE DIDN'T MENTION THE
ARMS RACE OR RONALD REGAN'S
FOREIGN POLICY.
HE REPLIED, "THE BEATLES."
TODAY, I OFTEN THINK ABOUT THE
FORCES, THE HIDDEN FORCES THAT
ARE BEHIND THE EMERGENCE OF THE
CITIZEN SECTOR.
WHAT IDEAS CONNECT ALL THESE
PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD?
I THINK IT'S WORTH LOOKING VERY
CAREFULLY INTO THIS, BECAUSE IT
WILL GIVE US A HINT ABOUT WHAT
THE FUTURE HOLDS.
REMEMBER, JUST WEEKS BEFORE THE
BERLIN WALL FELL, ALMOST NONE
OF THE PUNDITS SAW IT COMING.
THEY WERE LOOKING IN THE WRONG
PLACES FOR THEIR INFORMATION.
WHAT DOES THE EMERGENCE OF THE
CITIZEN SECTOR TELL US ABOUT
THE CHANGES IN CONSCIOUSNESS
OCCURRING ACROSS THE WORLD
TODAY, AND WHERE ARE THESE
CHANGES TAKING US?
IN HIS RECENT BOOK ABOUT THE
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY, "BURY THE
CHAINS," ADAM HOCHSCHILD NOTES
THAT AT THE END OF THE 18th
CENTURY, WELL OVER 3 quarters OF ALL
PEOPLE ALIVE WERE IN BONDAGE.
HE'S REFERRING TO ACTUAL
BONDAGE AS IN SLAVERY OF
SERFDOM.
BUT HE GOT ME THINKING ABOUT
FREEDOM MORE BROADLY.
AND IT STRUCK ME THAT UNTIL
RECENTLY, EXCEPT FOR A SLIVER
OF HUMANITY, ALMOST EVERYBODY
LIVING HAS BEEN IN A FORM OF
CAPTIVITY -- CAPTIVE TO KINGS
OF FEUDAL LORDS, GENERALS OR
POLITBUROS, OR CAPTIVE TO SHORT
LIVES OR ILLITERACY, OR JUST
THE DAILY HARDSHIP OF SURVIVAL.
FOR MOST OF THE 20th CENTURY,
IN WHAT WE WOULD CONSIDER THE
MOST CULTURALLY ADVANCED
CORNERS OF THE WORLD, IF YOU
WERE A WOMAN OR A BLACK SKINNED
PERSON OR A DISABLED PERSON OR
A HOMOSEXUAL, OR ANY MEMBER OF
1,000 MINORITY GROUPS, YOU WERE
SHACKLED BY AGE OLD TRADITIONS
AND PREJUDICES, PREJUDICES
OFTEN BACKED UP BY THE RULE OF
LAW.
FOR MOST OF THE WORLD, THIS
STATUS QUO HAS PERSISTED UNTIL
VERY RECENTLY.
IN MANY PLACES IT STILL
PERSISTS, IN OUR MIDST AS WELL.
BUT OVER THE PAST 30 OR 40
YEARS, IT HAS WEAKENED
SUBSTANTIALLY.
THE MOST DRAMATIC CHANGES HAVE BEEN THE
GLOBAL SPREAD OF THE WOMEN'S
MOVEMENT, AND IMPROVEMENTS IN
THE DISTRIBUTION OF BASIC
EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE,
WHICH HAVE RAISED LITERACY
RATES AND LIFE EXPECTANCIES FOR
HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.
DURING THE 1970s ALONE, THE
NUMBER OF UNIVERSITIES IN THE
WORLD DOUBLED.
DURING THE 1980s ALONE, THE
GLOBAL VACCINATION RATE FOR
CHILDREN, CLIMBED FROM 20 percent
TO 80 percent.
EVEN SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS THE
DISSEMINATION OF IODISED SALT,
A 5 CENT REMEDY WHICH OCCURRED
MOSTLY DURING THE 1990s, HAS
PREVENTED TENS OF MILLIONS OF
PEOPLE FROM GROWING UP MENTALLY
RETARDED.
SINCE THE 1970s, A GLOBAL
ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT HAS
EMERGED FULL FORCE ALONG WITH
CONSUMER PROTECTION, DISABILITY
RIGHTS, GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS,
THE MOVEMENT FOR THE EQUALITY
OF UNTOUCHABLES IN INDIA, THE
LANDLESS MOVEMENT IN BRAZIL.
DURING THE 1990s, CITIZENS
AROUND THE WORLD, WITH NOTABLE
LEADERSHIP FROM CANADA,
ACHIEVED AN INTERNATIONAL
TREATY BANNING THE USE OF
LANDMINES, AND CREATING AN
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT,
BOTH OF THEM OVER THE OBJECTION
OF THE MOST POWERFUL NATION
STATE IN THE WORLD, THE UNITED
STATES.
MICRO-CREDIT, AS I MENTIONED
HAS REACHED -- IS REACHING 70
MILLION FAMILIES.
I HAVEN'T EVEN MENTIONED THE
INTERNET, AND OF COURSE THE
COLLAPSE OF COMMUNISM AND
APARTHEID, AND ALL OF THOSE
DICTATORSHIPS ACROSS AFRICA AND
LATIN AMERICA AND IN THEIR
WAKE, THE SPREAD OF POLITICAL
PLURALISM AND TENTATIVE
DEMOCRACIES.
TODAY, THE UPSHOT IS THAT FAR
MORE PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO
CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO
WITHOUT BEING IMPRISONED,
BANNED OR DISAPPEARED.
THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS.
BUT IT'S NOT ALL GOOD.
EVERY DAY, THE NEWSPAPERS
REMIND US THAT THE HUMAN
INSTINCT FOR SAVAGERY IS ALIVE
AND WELL.
IN RECENT YEARS, READING ABOUT
THE GENOCIDES IN BOSNIA,
RWANDA, AND NOW DARFUR, ABOUT
THE TRAFFICKING OF SEX SLAVES,
ABOUT BOMBINGS IN TRAINS AND
CAFES, I'VE FOUND MYSELF
REPEATEDLY STUNNED BY WHAT
HUMAN BEINGS ARE CAPABLE OF
ALTHOUGH I KNOW PERFECTLY WELL
I SHOULDN'T BE.
WHEN I WAS 13 YEARS OLD, I
WROTE AN ESSAY ON THE
HOLOCAUST.
I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I
READ ABOUT THE MEDICAL
EXPERIMENTS PERFORMED BY THE
NAZI DOCTORS IN AUSCHWITZ, HOW
THEY WOULD DROP INFANTS UPSIDE
DOWN ONTO CEMENT FLOORS FROM
DIFFERENT HEIGHTS TO SEE AT
WHAT POINT THEIR SKULLS WOULD
BE CRUSHED -- THAT WAS AN
AWAKENING FOR ME.
I REMEMBER THINKING THAT
NOTHING I READ WOULD EVER SHOCK
ME AGAIN.
BUT RECENTLY I ATTENDED A
REMARKABLE PLAY IN NEW YORK
CITY CALLED, "NINE PARTS OF
DESIRE," BASED ON INTERVIEWS
WITH IRAQI WOMEN AND HEARING
ACCOUNTS OF THE BUTCHERY OF THE
BAATHIST REGIME, I WAS NEWLY
STUNNED.
ALTHOUGH AGAIN, I KNOW I
SHOULDN'T BE.
BUT MY WISE OLD AUNT SELMA WHO
IS NOW 91, OFTEN REMINDS ME
THAT THE SINS OF OMISSION ARE
WORSE THAN THE SINS OF
COMMISSION AND THAT THE
GREATEST EVILS IN THE WORLD,
LIKE MASS POVERTY, ARE MORE THE
RESULT OF INACTION THAN DIRECT
BRUTALITY.
THE POOREST HALF OF THE PEOPLE
IN THE WORLD RECEIVE 5 percent OF
GLOBAL INCOME.
IT'S PROBABLY SAFE TO SAY THAT
HALF OF THE PEOPLE ON THE
PLANET ARE LIVING SO CLOSE TO
THE EDGE OF SURVIVAL THAT THEY
HAVE NO OPTIONS TO SPEAK OF.
THIS ISN'T TO SAY THAT THEY
CAN'T EXPERIENCE HAPPINESS.
YOU FIND MANY HIGH SPIRITED
PEOPLE IN A BANGLADESHI
VILLAGE.
SOMETIMES MORE HIGH SPIRITED
PEOPLE THAN RIDING THE SUBWAY
IN NEW YORK.
BUT THEY NEVER GET A CHANCE TO
EXPERIENCE A FRACTION OF THEIR
POTENTIAL IN LIFE.
THE SINS OF OMISSION ARE HARD
TO KEEP TRACK OF, THERE ARE SO
MANY.
WESTERN SOCIETIES TAKE PRIDE IN
THEIR COMPASSION AND
RATIONALITY, AND YET WE OFFER
1,000 EXPLANATIONS ABOUT WHY WE
CAN'T INCREASE THE MINIMUM
WAGE, OR CUT DRUG PRICES FOR
AFRICANS WHO ARE HIV POSITIVE,
OR REDUCE THE RATE AT WHICH WE
ARE DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT.
OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS, WE HAVE
CONSUMED one third OF THE PLANET'S
NATURAL RESOURCES.
IT'S PRETTY OBVIOUS THAT WE'RE
IN DENIAL ABOUT THIS.
JUST LOOK AT THE CARS WE DRIVE.
WHY HAVE WE CHOSEN THE PRECISE
MOMENT IN HISTORY, WHEN THE
PROBLEM OF GLOBAL WARMING HAS
COME TO LIGHT, TO DOUBLE THE
SIZE OF OUR CARS?
IT'S LIKE BEING TOLD YOU'RE
DEVELOPING EMPHYSEMA AND
RESPONDING BY SWITCHING FROM
SMOKING ONE PACK A DAY TO
SMOKING TWO PACKS A DAY.
AND INSTEAD OF CHANGING OUR
BEHAVIOUR, IT SEEMS WE'D RATHER
PRAY FOR GOOD HEALTH.
ACCORDING TO POLLS, one third OF
AMERICANS NOW BELIEVE-- REPORT
THAT THE BIBLE IS LITERALLY
TRUE, AND IN A NUMBER OF U.S.
STATES, SCIENCE TEACHERS HAVE
STOPPED TEACHING EVOLUTION
ALTOGETHER, NOT EVEN BECAUSE
THEY'VE BEEN ORDERED TO DO SO,
BUT BECAUSE THEY DON'T BELIEVE
IN IT THEMSELVES, OR THEY
SIMPLY SEE IT AS A CAREER RISK.
THIS LAST PHENOMENON, THE RISE
OF RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM IS,
I BELIEVE A SYMPTOM OF POWERFUL
GLOBAL FORCES THAT WE'RE
FAILING TO COME TO GRIPS WITH.
THE WORLD IS CHANGING SO
QUICKLY.
THIS DECADE, THE CURRENT DECADE
IS THE FIRST IN HUMAN HISTORY
IN WHICH MORE PEOPLE LIVE IN
TOWNS AND CITIES THAN IN
VILLAGES.
THAT'S A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE,
IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME IN
COMING.
WE CAN THINK OF IT AS THE
TIPPING POINT OF A PROCESS THAT
BEGAN 13,000 YEARS AGO, WITH
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
WE ONLY HAVE
TO GO BACK TWO OR THREE
GENERATIONS TO A TIME WHEN THE
OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF THE
WORLD'S POPULATION WAS STILL
RURAL, EVEN IN INDUSTRIAL
COUNTRIES LIKE CANADA AND THE
UNITED STATES.
FOR ALMOST ALL OF RECORDED
HISTORY, ALMOST EVERYONE LIVED
IN SLOW CHANGING COMMUNITIES
WHERE PEOPLE RARELY MOVED,
WHERE SURVIVAL SKILLS COULD BE
ACQUIRED FROM YOUR PARENTS, AND
WHERE AGE OLD CODES OF CONDUCT
TOLD YOU WHAT WAS RIGHT, AND
WHAT WAS WRONG, AND YOU ACTED
ACCORDINGLY.
THAT WAS THE WORLD THAT SHAPED OUR LAWS, OUR
RELIGIONS, OUR IDENTITIES.
IT UNDERPINNED OUR ECONOMIES,
AND UNTIL RECENTLY, IT GOVERNED
OUR EXPECTATIONS.
IT WAS A KNOWABLE WORLD
DOMINATED BY SIMPLE RULES.
WE USED TO COMPARE OURSELVES
WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS TO SEE IF
WE WERE DOING ALL RIGHT.
WE USED TO COMPETE WITH THEM
FOR JOBS.
WE COULD COUNT ON GRADUAL
CHANGE, SO WE HAD A PRETTY GOOD
IDEA ABOUT WHAT TOMORROW MIGHT
BRING.
THAT WORLD DOESN'T EXIST ANY
MORE, NOT IN CANADA, NOT IN
BRAZIL, NOT EVEN IN RURAL
INDIA, WHERE VILLAGERS WATCH
THE SAME TV SHOWS WE DO.
AND HISTORICALLY SPEAKING, IT'S
DISAPPEARED IN THE BLINK OF AN
EYE.
THE URBAN POPULATION IN
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES WAS 300
MILLION IN 1950.
IN 20 YEARS, IT WILL BE 4 and a half
BILLION.
GLOBAL SOCIETY AND THE GLOBAL
ECONOMY WILL LOOK VERY, VERY
DIFFERENT THEN.
PEOPLE ALREADY FEEL THE LOSS OF
CONTROL.
THEY'VE BEEN UPROOTED FROM
THEIR TRADITIONAL FOUNDATIONS,
THEIR JOBS HAVE BEEN GLOBALISED
AND THEY HAVE TO WORK WITH
PEOPLE WHO LOOK DIFFERENT AND
SPEAK A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE AND
HAVE NO USE FOR THEIR GOD.
AND TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, THE
MEDIA FLOODS THEM WITH IMAGES
REMINDING THEM ON A DAILY
BASIS, THAT THEY ARE INADEQUATE
IN A HUNDRED WAYS AND IN
CONSTANT DANGER OF EVERYTHING
FROM CHOLESTEROL TO CHILD
MOLESTATION.
IT'S DIFFICULT TO TOLERATE SO
MUCH CHANGE AND AMBIGUITY.
I SUSPECT THAT THESE GLOBAL
FORCES MAY EXPLAIN WHY WE'RE
SEEING A RISE IN FUNDAMENTALISM
ACROSS THE WORLD, NOT JUST IN
THE MIDDLE EAST, BUT AMONG
INDIANS, AMONG NIGERIANS, AND
BRAZILIANS, AND AMERICANS AND
CANADIANS, TOO.
WHEREVER PEOPLE FEEL ADRIFT,
THREATENED AND MARGINALISED,
THEY CLING TO CERTAINTIES.
THEY HAVE ALWAYS DONE SO.
INTERESTINGLY, IF YOU LOOK TO
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS WORKING
WITH YOUTH ACROSS THE WORLD,
YOU FIND THAT THEY'RE ALL
GRAPPLING WITH THE VERY SAME
CHALLENGES.
HOW DO WE PREPARE CHILDREN TO
SUCCEED IN THIS NEW WORLD?
HOW DO WE PROTECT THEM?
HOW DO WE HELP THEM LEARN TO
MANAGE CHANGE?
HOW DO WE HELP THEM TO ENJOY
RATHER THAN TO FEAR
DIFFERENCES?
AND AGAIN, TEACHING EMPATHY IS
ALMOST ALWAYS AT THE CORE OF
THEIR WORK.
SOMETIMES I PULL BACK AND TRY
TO IMAGINE THE CHANGES OF THE
PAST 40 YEARS FROM A LONG TERM
PERSPECTIVE.
AND THEY STRIKE ME AS A KIND OF
ICE AGE MELTING.
IT'S AS IF A GLACIER HAS
RECEDED AND IN ITS WAKE, ALL
SORTS OF NEW LIFE FORMS CAN
SPRING UP.
SO SUDDENLY PEOPLE WHO SEE THAT
TRADITIONAL STRUCTURES ARE
FAILING, ARE ABLE TO TAKE
EFFECTIVE ACTION, AND THEY'RE
RESPONDING TO THESE NEW
REALITIES.
I THINK WE'RE GOING TO SEE A
LOT MORE OF THIS BEHAVIOUR IN
THE YEARS TO COME, BECAUSE IT
IS SO MUCH BETTER SUITED TO
CRAFTING DECENTRALISED
SOLUTIONS THAN THE TOP DOWN
MECHANISMS OF THE PAST, AND
BECAUSE IT STRENGTHENS
DEMOCRACY.
AND AS THE PACE OF CHANGE
ACCELERATES, OUR ADAPTIVE
SYSTEMS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO
KEEP PACE WITH THE CHANGES,
WHETHER IT'S THE ENVIRONMENTAL
THREAT OR AIDS, OR JUST THE
IMPACT OF UNREGULATED OR...
RABID CAPITALISM, WE CAN'T WAIT
TOO LONG TO FIX THINGS.
ULTIMATELY THIS IS WHY SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURS HAVE BECOME A
GLOBAL FORCE TODAY.
IT'S VERY SIMPLE.
SOCIAL CONDITIONS HAVE ALLOWED
THEM TO FLOURISH AND THEY ARE
DESPERATELY NEEDED.
THERE IS ALSO A DARK SIDE TO
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
IT CAN BE SEEN IN AL QAEDA AND
ITS IMITATORS.
THE POWER OF INDIVIDUALS HAS
GROWN, FOR BETTER AND FOR
WORSE.
SO THE BIG QUESTION REMAINS,
WHAT WILL PEOPLE DO WITH THEIR
FREEDOMS AND THEIR NEW POWERS?
WILL THEY DEVOTE THEMSELVES TO
MAKING MONEY AND MAKING BOMBS?
OR WILL PEOPLE ORGANISE
THEMSELVES INTELLIGENTLY TO
PRESERVE AND EXTEND THE
FREEDOMS THAT THEY NOW ENJOY.
I'M OPTIMISTIC BECAUSE I KNOW
THAT THERE ARE FAR MORE SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURS THAN TERRORISTS.
I'VE SEEN IT, AND I BELIEVE
THAT IT'S POSSIBLE THAT OVER
THE NEXT FEW DECADES, WE MIGHT
BE TREATED TO SOMETHING NEW AND
EXCITING, A CHANCE TO WATCH THE
REAL HISTORY OF THE WORLD BEGIN
TO UNFOLD.
IT WON'T BE THE HISTORY OF WHAT
PEOPLE MUST DO WHEN THEY ARE
HELD CAPTIVE, BUT THE HISTORY
OF WHAT PEOPLE CHOOSE TO DO
WHEN THEY HAVE REAL OPTIONS.
WHAT MIGHT THIS WORLD LOOK
LIKE, AND HOW CAN WE HELP TO
CREATE IT.
IN MY FRESHMAN YEAR AT McGILL
UNIVERSITY, I ENROLLED IN
ECONOMICS 101, WHERE I WAS
PROMPTLY INTRODUCED TO A
CHARACTER CALLED, "ECONOMIC
MAN," WHO ALWAYS ACTS
RATIONALLY TO MAXIMISE HIS
ECONOMIC SELF INTEREST.
AT AROUND THE SAME TIME, I WAS ALSO
INTRODUCED TO THE PROLETARIAN
OF UTOPIAN SOCIALISM, WHO IS
HAPPY TO WORK ACCORDING TO HIS
ABILITY AND RECEIVE ACCORDING
TO HIS NEED.
IN OTHER COURSES, I ENCOUNTERED
THE NOBLE SAVAGE, AND HOBBES'
WARRIOR AGAINST ALL, AND A
STRANGE HUMAN BEING IMAGINED BY
JOHN LOCKE, WHO HAS NO INNATE
TENDENCIES.
PERSONALLY I'VE NEVER COME ACROSS ANYONE
WHO RESEMBLES ANY OF THESE PEOPLE.
BUT THESE ARE THE IDEAS THAT
HAVE SHAPED OUR WORLD AND OUR
INSTITUTIONS.
THEY ARE VERY POWERFUL IDEAS.
AND IF WE THINK OF IT, IT'S NO
WONDER THAT SO MANY OF THE
SYSTEMS IN OUR SOCIETY ARE IN
NEED OF REPAIR.
WE'VE BEEN DELUDING OURSELVES
FOR A CENTURY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE
ARE LIKE.
IN A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE BOOK,
ENTITLED, "PRISONS WE CHOOSE TO
LIVE INSIDE," THE NOVELIST
DORIS LESSING HAS WRITTEN, "I
THINK WHEN PEOPLE LOOK BACK AT
OUR TIME, THEY'LL BE AMAZED AT
ONE THING MORE THAN ANY OTHER.
IT IS THIS -- THAT WE DO KNOW
MORE ABOUT OURSELVES NOW THAN
OTHER PEOPLE HAVE IN THE PAST,
BUT THAT VERY LITTLE OF THAT
KNOWLEDGE HAS BEEN PUT INTO
EFFECT."
MAYBE THIS IS THE CHALLENGE OF
THE CENTURY, TO MAKE PRACTICAL
USE OF THE KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE
ABOUT OUR SPECIES.
TO PULL TOGETHER WHAT WE KNOW
ABOUT HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY AND
GROUP BEHAVIOUR, AND THE ROOTS
OF VIOLENCE AND GENOCIDES, AND
BUILD STRUCTURES THAT CAN
ACCOMMODATE THE MESSY HUMAN
ELEMENT AND STILL WORK WELL.
WHEN I TRAVEL TODAY, I SEE
PEOPLE BUILDING THESE EMINENTLY
PRACTICAL ORGANISATIONS LIKE
THE GRAMEEN BANK, AND COLLEGE
SUMMIT AND BARKA AND ROOTS OF
EMPATHY, AND I SEE THAT THEY'RE
DEEPLY WOVEN INTO THE TEXTURE
OF PEOPLE'S LIVES.
THEY'RE NOT FLOATING ON ROSY
FANTASIES OR DROWNING IN
UNWARRANTED PESSIMISM.
THEY RECOGNISE HUMAN
LIMITATIONS AND WEAKNESSES, BUT
THEY ALSO BEGIN WITH THE
PRESUMPTION THAT, FOR THE MOST
PART, PEOPLE ARE COMPETENT AND
RESOURCEFUL, AND THEY STRIVE
FOR CONNECTION AND MEANING.
THESE ORGANISATIONS TRUST, BUT
THEY ALSO VERIFY.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE OVER THE PAST
30 YEARS, THE GRAMEEN BANK HAS
HAD TO DEAL WITH EVERY PROBLEM
YOU CAN IMAGINE, REPAYMENT
CRISES, STAFF CORRUPTION, SEX
SCANDALS, ROBBERIES, MANAGEMENT
INCOMPETENCE, OPPOSITION FROM
FUNDAMENTALISTS, AND THE FIERCE
COMPETITION FOR SURVIVAL THAT
FOLLOWS CYCLONES AND FLOODS,
WHERE NEIGHBOURS ARE LITERALLY
PITTED AGAINST EACH OTHER.
AND EACH TIME IT HAS LEARNED
SOMETHING NEW ABOUT HOW TO WORK
WITH POOR VILLAGERS, EACH TIME
IT HAS CHANGED ITS RECIPE,
ADDED SOME NEW SAFEGUARDS OR
GIVEN ITS SYSTEMS A TUNE-UP.
YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE DETAILS
TO APPRECIATE HOW MUCH SOFT
INTELLIGENCE IS BUILT INTO THE
SYSTEM, WHICH HAS 12,000
EMPLOYEES, WHICH, EACH WEEK,
MAKE THEIR WAY OVER MUDDY PATHS
AND ACROSS BAMBOO BRIDGES TO
COLLECT THEIR LOAN INSTALMENTS.
FOR EXAMPLE, A WEEK AFTER BEING
HIRED BY THE GRAMEEN BANK,
EVERY NEW RECRUIT IS DISPATCHED
IMMEDIATELY TO A VILLAGE WHERE
HE OR SHE HAS TO WRITE A
DETAILED CASE STUDY ABOUT A
POOR WOMAN.
THE RECRUIT IS EXPECTED TO
SPEND A FEW DAYS INTERVIEWING
THE WOMAN IN HER HOME, USUALLY
SITTING ON A CANE MAT TAKING
NOTES, WHILE THE WOMAN GOES
ABOUT HER BUSINESS, GRINDING
CHILIS OR SHELLING PEAS.
IT'S A RELATIVELY SIMPLE
EXERCISE DESIGNED TO HELP THE
STAFF SEE BEYOND THEIR OWN
PREJUDICES ABOUT POVERTY.
BUT IT ALSO TURNS OUT TO BE AN
EXCELLENT WAY TO SCREEN OUT
STAFF MEMBERS WHO HAVE NO
ENTHUSIASM FOR SERVING THE
POOR.
ANOTHER WAY THE BANK SCREENS
OUT POTENTIAL PROBLEM STAFF
MEMBERS, IS BY NOT HIRING
PEOPLE WHO HAVE WORKED IN OTHER
BANKS.
IT'S TOO DIFFICULT TO GET THEM
TO CHANGE THEIR IDEAS ABOUT
WHAT A BANK SHOULD DO.
IN HUNGARY, I MET A WOMAN NAMED
ERZABET ZHACHARIS, THE MOTHER
OF A DISABLED SON, WHO HAD
ESTABLISHED A NETWORK OF 21
WORKING AND LIVING CENTRES FOR
DISABLED PEOPLE.
SHE HAD DISCOVERED, LIKE THE
GRAMEEN BANK, THAT THE KEY TO
SUCCESS WAS CHOOSING THE RIGHT
PEOPLE WITH THE RIGHT
QUALITIES.
INITIALLY SHE HIRED PEOPLE WITH
FORMAL CREDENTIALS.
SHE LOOKED FOR EXPERIENCE IN
THE STATE INSTITUTIONS.
BUT SHE SOON FOUND THAT THEY
HAD NEGATIVE ATTITUDES ABOUT
DISABLED PEOPLE, AND IT WAS
ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE
THESE ATTITUDES.
SO SHE BEGAN WATCHING PEOPLE
WHO CONNECTED WELL WITH THE
DISABLED, AND SHE SAW THAT THEY
SHARED CERTAIN QUALITIES,
PATIENCE, EMPATHY, FLEXIBLE
THINKING AND A GOOD SENSE OF
HUMOUR.
SO TODAY WHEN SHE HIRES PEOPLE,
THESE ARE THE QUALITIES THAT
SHE LOOKS FOR.
SHE DOESN'T PAY ANY ATTENTION
TO THEIR CREDENTIALS OR
EXPERIENCE, EXCEPT TO MAKE SURE
THAT THEY HAVE NEVER WORKED IN
AN INSTITUTION.
SHE'S HAPPY TO HIRE FORMER SHOP
CLERKS, BAKERS, HOMEMAKERS...
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HER
CENTRES AND THE STATE
INSTITUTIONS IN HUNGARY IS LIKE
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A
GREENHOUSE AND A MORGUE.
NOW WHY DON'T INSTITUTIONS FOR
DISABLED PEOPLE ROUTINELY
SCREEN THEIR EMPLOYEES FOR
EMPATHY, FLEXIBLE THINKING AND
A DECENT SENSE OF HUMOUR?
YOU COULD FILL A PHONE BOOK
WITH DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNMENT
SCHEMES THAT HAVE FAILED
BECAUSE THEY FORGOT ABOUT THE
HUMAN ELEMENT.
AND TO MY MIND, THE BIGGEST
CHALLENGE THAT WE FACE TODAY,
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES THAT WE
FACE TODAY ARE NOT TECHNICAL
BUT ORGANISATIONAL.
THEY REQUIRE INNOVATION IN THE
AREAS OF MANAGEMENT,
MOTIVATION, COMMUNICATION AND
DISTRIBUTION.
WE ALREADY HAVE MANY LIFESAVING
AND LIFE CHANGING SOLUTIONS
THAT AREN'T BROADLY
DISTRIBUTED.
MALARIA NETS, ORAL RE-HYDRATION
THERAPY WHICH PREVENTS CHILDREN
FROM DYING FROM DIARRHOEA,
VACCINES, READING GLASSES,
WATER FILTERS, MILLIONS OF
LIVES COULD BE SAVED EACH YEAR
JUST BE GETTING THEM INTO
PEOPLE'S HANDS.
THE INFORMATION THAT COULD HAVE
PREVENTED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF
DEATHS FROM THE TSUNAMI WAS
WIDELY AVAILABLE, IT JUST
WASN'T DISTRIBUTED WHERE IT
NEEDED TO BE.
WHEN I COME ACROSS APPROACHES,
VERY CREATIVE APPROACHES LIKE
THE ONES I'VE MENTIONED ABOVE,
INVARIABLY I FIND THAT THERE'S
AN OBSESSIVE PERSON BEHIND
THEM, A MONOMANIAC WITH A MISSION.
SOME PEOPLE ARE SO DETERMINED TO MAKE THEIR
IDEAS WORK THAT THEY WILL
SIMPLY NOT STOP UNTIL THEY HAVE
SUCCEEDED, NO MATTER HOW LONG
IT TAKES.
NO BUREAUCRACY IS THIS
MOTIVATED.
NO BUREAUCRACY HAS THIS LEVEL
OF PATIENCE OR ENERGY OR
TENACITY.
IF YOU CAN IMAGINE THE LEVEL OF
KNOWLEDGE THE GRAMEEN BANK HAS
AMASSED ABOUT VILLAGE LIFE, AND
IF YOU MULTIPLY THAT KNOWLEDGE
10,000 TIMES AND SCATTER IT
AROUND THE GLOBE IN A VARIETY
OF FIELDS, YOU CAN GET AN IDEA
OF THE GOLD MINE OF EXPERIENCE,
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE THAT WE
ARE NOW SITTING ON, AND THE
EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITIES WE
HAVE TO DRAW OUT THE PRACTICAL
LESSONS AND PUT THEM INTO
BROADER USE, TO SPREAD THEM.
THIS IS AN AREA WHERE
UNIVERSITIES CAN, AND I BELIEVE
SHOULD LEAD THE WAY.
ALL THE IDEAS AND SOLUTIONS
THAT I'VE MENTIONED, COME INTO
BEING BECAUSE PEOPLE LISTEN,
TRUST THEIR INTUITION AND MAKE
THE DECISION TO TAKE ACTION.
THEY ALL SHARE CERTAIN
QUALITIES, INITIATIVE,
FLEXIBILITY, BOLDNESS,
HUMILITY, TENACITY, HUMOUR AND
FAITH.
NOW KEEP IN MIND THAT MOST
SOCIETIES STILL ATTEMPT TO
SOLVE PROBLEMS WITH
INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE WEAK IN
MANY OR ALL OF THESE QUALITIES.
IT'S WORTH ASKING OURSELVES WHY
WE DO THIS.
IT'S ALSO WORTH ASKING HOW WE
CAN CULTIVATE THESE QUALITIES
IN OUR INSTITUTIONS AND ALSO IN
OUR OWN LIVES.
IN HIS ESSAY, "SELF RELIANCE,"
RALPH WALDO EMERSON HAS
WRITTEN, "A MAN SHOULD LEARN TO
DETECT AND WATCH THAT GLEAM OF
LIGHT WHICH FLASHES ACROSS HIS
MIND FROM WITHIN MORE THAN THE
LUSTRE OF THE FIRMAMENT OF
BARDS AND SAGES.
YET HE DISMISSES WITHOUT
NOTICE, HIS THOUGHT, BECAUSE IT
IS HIS.
IN EVERY WORK OF GENIUS WE
RECOGNISE OUR OWN REJECTED
THOUGHTS.
THEY COME BACK TO US WITH A
CERTAIN OF ALIENATED MAJESTY.
HOW DO WE COME TO TRUST OUR OWN
GLEAMS OF LIGHT?
IT'S OFTEN BEEN OBSERVED THAT
ONLY ONE PERSON IN TEN IS A
NATURAL LEADER.
IN "PRISONS WE CHOOSE TO LIVE
INSIDE," DORIS LESSING REMINDS
US THAT TYRANTS AND COMMANDERS
OF PRISONS AND CONCENTRATION
CAMPS HAVE LONG UNDERSTOOD THAT
IF YOU REMOVE OR PURGE THE
NATURAL LEADERS FROM THE
GENERAL POPULATION, THE
REMAINDER WILL BECOME SPINELESS
AND CONFORMING.
YOU MAY HAVE HEARD ABOUT PAUL
AND TATIANA RUSESABAGINA, WHOSE
STORIES ARE TOLD IN THE MOVIE,
"HOTEL RWANDA," WHO RISKED
THEIR LIVES AND SAVED 1,268
PEOPLE DURING THE RWANDAN
GENOCIDE.
WHAT MAKES THEM SO UNUSUAL?
WHY IS IT THAT ONLY A SMALL
PROPORTION OF PEOPLE CAN BE
COUNTED UPON TO RESIST GROUP
MADNESS?
WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE ABLE TO
HOLD TO THEIR BELIEFS IN THE
FACE OF OPPOSITION, LONELINESS
AND DANGER.
WHAT DOES THAT TAKE?
AND WILL THE WORLD ALWAYS BE A
PLACE IN WHICH ONLY 10 percent OF THE
PEOPLE IN ANY GIVEN ROOM, ARE
INDEPENDENT THINKERS?
IS THIS A FACT OF LIFE, A
NATURAL RATIO LIKE PI?
OR IS THERE SOME WAY THE
LEADERSHIP RATIO COULD BE
INCREASED TO, SAY 20 percent?
COULD WE DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF
PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM WHO SEE
THEMSELVES AS CREATIVE ACTORS
RATHER THAN PASSIVE RESPONDERS?
COULD WE DO IT GLOBALLY?
AND IF SO, WHAT WOULD BE THE
IMPACT ON OUR SCHOOLS AND OUR
BUSINESSES, ON OUR GOVERNMENTS
AND RELIGIONS?
WOULD WE STILL HAVE THE PROBLEM
OF GENOCIDE?
THOMASZ SADOWSKI, THE FOUNDER
OF BARKA, BEGAN HIS WORK BY
INVITING 20 HOMELESS PEOPLE TO
LIVE WITH HIM AND HIS WIFE
BARBARA AND THEIR BABY GIRL
EVA, IN A RENOVATED RURAL
SCHOOL HOUSE.
WHEN I ASKED THOMASZ WHY HE
TOOK THAT STEP, HE REPLIED,
"IT'S LIKE I WAS WALKING DOWN
THE STREET WITH TICKETS TO THE
OPERA, AND I SAW SOMEBODY FALL
INTO A WELL.
SO I HAVE TO SOIL MY SUIT AND
HELP HIM.
BUT AFTER THE OPERA IS OVER,
EACH TIME I WALK BY THAT WELL,
I HAVE THE SATISFACTION OF
KNOWING I DID THE RIGHT THING."
WHY IS IT THAT SOME PEOPLE STOP
AT THE WELL, WHILE OTHERS
CONTINUE TO THE OPERA?
PEOPLE OFTEN AS ME IF SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURSHIP CAN BE TAUGHT,
OR IF SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST BORN
THAT WAY.
THE ANSWERS ARE YES, AND YES.
PEOPLE CERTAINLY ARRIVE IN THIS
WORLD WITH TEMPERAMENTS AND
TALENTS, BUT HOW THEY ACTIVATE
THOSE TALENTS IS LARGELY A
FUNCTION OF WHAT THEY'RE
EXPOSED TO, WHAT THEY CHOOSE TO
EXPOSE THEMSELVES TO, AND WHAT
ACTIONS THEY TAKE.
I MENTIONED THAT MUHAMMAD YUNUS
WAS DEEPLY AFFECTED BY THE
FAMINE IN BANGLADESH IN 1974,
IT CHANGED HIS LIFE.
J.B. SCHRAMM ALSO HAD A SIMILAR
EXPERIENCE WHEN HE WORKED AT A
CAMP FOR ADJUDICATED YOUTH IN
SOUTH CAROLINA, AND SAW HOW
HARD THEIR LIVES WERE.
EACH OF THEM CAME AWAY FROM THE
EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMED.
IT'S POSSIBLE THAT WITHOUT
THOSE EXPERIENCES THEY MIGHT
HAVE CONTINUED ON THEIR
PREVIOUS PATHS, BUT I DON'T
THINK SO.
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS ARE GOOD
LISTENERS.
THEY TAKE IN NEW INFORMATION
AND ADJUST VERY QUICKLY.
AND FIRST AND FOREMOST, THEY
LISTEN CLOSELY TO THEMSELVES,
TO THE VOICE INSIDE THEM THAT
REMINDS THEM TO STAY FAITHFUL
TO THEIR CORE TRUTHS.
OVER THE PAST YEAR, I'VE VISITED DOZENS
OF UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE
UNITED STATES AND CANADA AND
SPOKEN WITH HUNDREDS OF
STUDENTS.
AND I HAVE MET MANY OF THEM, I
WOULD SAY SCORES, WHO ARE NOW
EXPLORING THE NEW TERRAIN OF
THE CITIZEN SECTOR, WHO ARE
PURSUING THEIR OWN SOCIAL
CHANGE VISIONS.
THEY FEEL STRONGLY CONNECTED TO THE
WORLD, THEY SEEM TO BE ENJOYING
THEMSELVES QUITE A BIT, BUT
THEY STILL REMAIN A DISTINCT
MINORITY.
THESE STUDENT INNOVATORS AREN'T
INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY.
MANY OF THEM WILL GRADUATE FROM
COLLEGE OWING TENS OF THOUSANDS
OF DOLLARS IN STUDENT LOANS,
LIKE THEIR FRIENDS.
SO WHY ARE THEY WILLING TO
PURSUE PATHS THAT ARE SOMEWHAT
RISKY, AT LEAST FINANCIALLY
SPEAKING?
I THINK THE ANSWER IS THAT THEY
ARE MORE WORRIED ABOUT ANOTHER
KIND OF RISK, THE RISK OF DOING
WORK THAT DOESN'T EXCITE AND
INSPIRE THEM, FOR THE NEXT 40
YEARS.
CURIOUSLY THAT IS A RISK THAT
MANY OF THEIR CLASSMATES SEEM
WILLING TO BEAR.
I'VE SPOKEN WITH YOUNG BANKERS
AND LAWYERS AND MANAGERS WHO
WOULD DROP THEIR PENS IN MID-
SENTENCE AND QUIT IF THEY WON
THE LOTTERY.
I DON'T KNOW A SINGLE SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEUR WHO WOULD DO THE
SAME.
WHAT DOES THAT SAY?
WHO IS MORE SELF-SACRIFICING?
IF YOU HAVE A WIDE RANGE OF
OPTIONS, AS MANY PEOPLE DO IN
CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES,
WHY SPEND YOUR DAYS DOING
SOMETHING THAT YOUR HEART ISN'T
INTO?
THIS IS WHAT I MEAN WHEN I SAY
THAT THE SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
LISTEN TO THEMSELVES.
IT IS NOT THAT THEY DON'T SEEK
APPROVAL FROM OTHERS AND THEY
DON'T CARE ABOUT MATERIAL
COMFORTS, IT'S JUST THAT
THEY'RE NOT WILLING TO DO WORK
THAT'S NOT MEANINGFUL TO GET
THOSE THINGS.
A BIG PART OF THE SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEUR'S EFFECTIVENESS
COMES FROM THIS SIMPLE FACT.
THEY RESPOND TO THEIR OWN
FEELINGS OF RESTLESSNESS
HONESTLY AND AGGRESSIVELY AND
THEY PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR
GLEAMS OF LIGHT.
WE CAN LEARN FROM THEM.
I THINK WE SHOULD ALL BE TAUGHT
TO LOOK FOR THE PATTERNS IN OUR
LIVES THAT REVEAL WHERE OUR
DEEPEST INTERESTS AND STRENGTHS
LIE.
WHAT DO YOU CARE ABOUT MOST?
WHAT HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOVED
DOING, EVER SINCE YOU WERE A
CHILD?
WHAT DO YOU DO BEST?
MANY PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THE
ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS.
THERE ARE STRONG FORCES IN
SOCIETY THAT PUSH US IN THE
DIRECTION OF OUR MARKETABLE
COMPETENCIES, RATHER THAN OUR
INTERESTS AND OUR STRENGTHS.
I KNOW THIS PERSONALLY, BECAUSE
I WORKED AS A COMPUTER
PROGRAMMER FOR FIVE YEARS,
LARGELY BECAUSE IT CAME
NATURALLY TO ME.
THE PATH WAS WELL DEFINED, BUT
IT WASN'T THE WORK I DID BEST
OR FOUND MOST FULFILLING.
WE SHOULD ALSO BE ENCOURAGED TO
ACT ON OUR IDEAS FROM A YOUNG
AGE, AND TO SEE WHAT WE CAN DO.
I THINK PROBABLY THE MOST
DEBILITATING IDEA WE GROW UP
WITH IS THIS NOTION THAT
FAILURE IS SHAMEFUL AND TO BE
AVOIDED.
INNOVATORS I'VE MET IN EVERY
FIELD, ABSORB FAILURE ON A
DAILY BASIS.
IN FACT SOME RESEARCHERS
BELIEVE THAT ENTREPRENEURS ARE
DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS, NOT
BECAUSE THEY HAVE SOMETHING
EXTRA, BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE
MISSING THE THING IN THEIR
BRAIN THAT TELLS THEM TO WORRY
ABOUT FAILURE.
PERHAPS THAT IS WHY THEY ARE
CONTINUALLY TRYING OUT NEW
IDEAS, MANY OF WHICH NEVER
WORK, IN ORDER TO FIND THE FEW
THAT DO.
IN THIS SENSE, THEY'RE A LOT
LIKE TODDLERS.
I WATCH MY 18 MONTH OLD SON
ELIJAH, AND HE'S CONFIDENTLY
EXPERIMENTING WITH HIS
ENVIRONMENT, TRYING TO MAKE HIS
HORSES STAND UP, TRYING TO
STACK THE BOOKS ON THE SHELF,
AND MOST OF HIS PLANS FAIL, BUT
HE'S NEVER DISCOURAGED.
HE'S WORLD'S APART FROM THE 7
YEAR OLD CHILD WHO STOPS
RAISING HIS HAND AFTER A FEW
WRONG ANSWERS.
IF WE WANT TO BUILD A SOCIETY
OF CREATIVE THINKERS AND
ACTORS, I THINK THAT WE'LL NEED
TO SHIFT OUR APPROACH TO
EDUCATION.
RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A SOCIETY
WHOSE ELITES ARE CHOSEN BASED
ON THEIR ABILITY TO PERFORM
WELL ON TESTS.
I THINK WE WOULD DO BETTER TO
HELP YOUNG PEOPLE IDENTIFY
THEIR INTERESTS AND STRENGTHS
AT AN EARLY AGE, AND CREATE
SPACES FOR THEM, THAT ALLOW FOR
ROBUST EXPERIMENTATION WITH
LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES TO BUILD
REAL THINGS, AND TO FAIL
WITHOUT SHAME.
MOST PEOPLE HAVE MORE CREATIVE
ABILITY THAN THEY WILL EVER REALISE.
BUT THEY LACK OPPORTUNITIES,
PARTICULARLY EARLY IN LIFE, TO
SEE WHAT THEY CAN DO.
"A GREAT PART OF COURAGE,"
EMERSON REMINDS US, "IS THE
COURAGE OF HAVING DONE THE
THING BEFORE."
AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, I
BELIEVE THAT WE'RE MOVING
TOWARD AN ERA IN WHICH
INDIVIDUALS AROUND THE GLOBE
WILL HAVE MORE AND MORE OPTIONS.
AND SELF ORGANISED CITIZENS WILL BECOME
INCREASINGLY POWERFUL ACTORS ON
THE WORLD STAGE.
WE SHOULD PREPARE TO TAKE FULL
ADVANTAGE OF THESE CHANGES.
WHEN I GRADUATED FROM McGILL
UNIVERSITY IN 1985, I HAD NEVER
HEARD ABOUT THE GRAMEEN BANK OR
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP OR THE
CITIZEN SECTOR.
I WASN'T INTERESTED IN JOINING
THE GOVERNMENT.
AS I SAW IT, MY CAREER OPTIONS
WERE TO WORK FOR A COMPANY,
BECOME A PROFESSIONAL, OR START
MY OWN BUSINESS.
TODAY, 20 YEARS LATER, I'M
ASTONISHED BY THE LANDSCAPE OF
OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CITIZEN
SECTOR.
OPPORTUNITIES TO PURSUE YOUR
INTERESTS, APPLY YOUR TALENTS
AND ACT IN LINE WITH YOUR
VALUES, WHILE DOING WORK THAT
HAS A SOCIAL IMPACT.
I DON'T MEAN TO IMPLY THAT
EVERYONE SHOULD GO HOME AND
BECOME A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR.
WE DON'T WANT THAT.
IF EVERYONE WERE AN
ENTREPRENEUR SOCIETY WOULD BE A
TERRIBLE MESS.
BUT FOR EVERYONE WHO STARTS
SOMETHING, YOU NEED 100 OTHER
PEOPLE TO MANAGE THOSE
ORGANISATIONS ADVOCATE FOR
THEM, HANDLE THE COMPUTERS, THE
FINANCES, THE WRITING, THE
TRAINING.
OVER THE NEXT DECADE, THE
CITIZEN SECTOR IS GOING TO DRAW
A VAST ARRAY OF TALENT FROM THE
OTHER SECTORS AND THE
PROFESSIONS.
IT'S GOING TO NEED MANY NEW
INSTITUTIONS THAT DON'T EXIST
YET.
AND THAT MEANS THAT YOUR
GENERATION IS GOING TO BUILD
THEM.
ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT'S
GOING TO BECOME INCREASINGLY
IMPORTANT WILL BE BRIDGE
PEOPLE, INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE
EXPERIENCE IN MULTIPLE SECTORS,
DISCIPLINES AND CULTURES.
BECAUSE IN THE FUTURE, THE
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE
GOVERNMENT, THE BUSINESS
SECTOR, AND THE CITIZEN SECTOR
ARE GOING TO BE TOTALLY
REDEFINED.
MANY RESPONSIBILITIES ARE GOING
TO BE SHARED.
GOVERNMENTS ARE GOING TO COME
TO SEE SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS AS
THE DRIVING FORCE OF NEW POLICY
IDEAS AND PRACTICAL CHANGE
MODELS, WHILE BUSINESSES WILL
BEGIN TAKING A MORE PROACTIVE
STANCE TOWARD SOLVING PROBLEMS
AND REACHING OUT TO UNDERSERVED
MARKETS VIA THE CITIZEN SECTOR.
TO COLLABORATE EFFECTIVELY, WE
ARE GOING TO NEED MANY MORE
PEOPLE WHO ARE COMFORTABLE
CROSSING THESE BOUNDARIES.
SINCE WORLD WAR II, THE AVERAGE
PER CAPITA INCOME IN CANADA AND
THE UNITED STATES HAS ALMOST
TRIPLED.
OUR HOMES ARE TWICE AS LARGE AS
THEY USED TO BE.
WE HAVE COMPUTERS AND
MICROWAVES AND HOME
ENTERTAINMENT CENTRES WITH
DOLBY SOUND.
BUT STUDIES SHOW THAT WE ARE NO
HAPPIER.
IN FACT WE MAY BE SIGNIFICANTLY
MORE DEPRESSED.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT
HAPPINESS?
WE KNOW THAT MONEY DOESN'T
PRODUCE IT.
IN THE UNITED STATES ONCE A
FAMILY IS EARNING ABOVE 50,000 dollars
A YEAR, MORE INCOME DOES NOT
TRANSLATE INTO MORE HAPPINESS.
WHAT DOES?
ALL THE STUDIES POINT TO THE
SAME THING, BEING ENGAGED IN
MEANINGFUL WORK AND FEELING
CONNECTED WITH OTHERS.
WE NEED TO KEEP IN MIND THAT
LIFE IS A MYSTERY.
WE DON'T KNOW WHERE WE COME
FROM, AND WE DON'T KNOW WHERE
WE ARE GOING.
THE ONLY THING WE KNOW FOR SURE IS THAT
WE HAVE SOME TIME IN THIS THREE
DIMENSIONAL PLACE, AND THEN
IT'S GOING TO END.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO DURING
YOUR TIME HERE?
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEAVE
BEHIND.
I'D LIKE TO END WITH ONE LAST
THOUGHT, AND THAT IS, WHEN YOU
LOOK AT PEOPLE AHEAD OF YOU WHO
HAVE MADE THEIR MARKS ON THE
WORLD, USE THEIR STORIES FOR
INSPIRATION AND GUIDANCE, BUT
DON'T COMPARE YOURSELVES WITH THEM.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW HUMBLY THEY BEGAN.
CAPACITY IS NOT SOMETHING
FIXED, IT GROWS ALONG THE WAY.
KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU DON'T
NEED TO HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OR
THE SKILL OR THE ENERGY TO
COMPLETE A TASK, WHEN YOU BEGIN
IT, YOU JUST NEED ENOUGH TO
BEGIN IT.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[Sustained applause]

Watch: David Bornstein on The Emergence of Social Entrepreneurship