Transcript: David Bornstein | May 05, 2007

[Theme music plays]

The opening sequence rolls. The logo of “Big Ideas” featuring a lit lamp bulb appears against an animated green slate.
Then, Andrew Moodie appears in the studio. The walls are decorated with screens featuring lit lamp bulbs, and two signs read “Big Ideas.”
Andrew is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly black hair. He's wearing a gray shirt.

Andrew says HELLO, I'M
ANDREW MOODIE, AND WELCOME
TO
BIG IDEAS.
YOU KNOW, IT'S EASY IN THIS
POST-ENRON WORLD TO LOOK AT THE
CORPORATE WORLD WITH GREAT
DISDAIN AND DISTRUST.
DOCUMENTARIES LIKE
THE CORPORATION
AND A
CLOUD OF SUSPICION SURROUNDING
CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY LIKE
CONRAD BLACK HAVE GIVEN THE
IMPRESSION THAT BEING AN
ENTREPRENEUR IS ALL ABOUT GREED
AND SELF-INTEREST.
WELL, DAVID BORNSTEIN IS HERE
TO PROVE THAT BEING AN
ENTREPRENEUR CAN ALSO SAVE THE
WORLD.
BORNSTEIN HAS A BACHELOR
OF COMMERCE FROM McGILL; HE'S
A WRITER AND A COMPUTER
PROGRAMMER, AND HE'S THE
AUTHOR OF
HOW TO CHANGE THE
WORLD: SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURS AND THE
POWER OF NEW IDEAS.
HERE IS DAVID BORNSTEIN IN AN
ENCORE PRESENTATION OF THE 2005
HART HOUSE LECTURE.

A clip plays in which David Bornstein stands on a small stage behind a wooden podium in a large, classically decorated room.
David is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short wavy brown hair. He’s wearing a black 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 OR
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 ORGANIZATION IN CHARGE,
WHICH WAS CALLED COLLEGE COM--
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 says I WAS TO
BEGIN WORKING WITH THE STUDENTS
ON A FRIDAY MORNING.
ON THURSDAY AT ABOUT 11:00
p.m., AFTER A 4-HOUR CRASH
TRAINING PROGRAM IN COLLEGE
SUMMIT'S CURRICULUM, I MET MY
STUDENTS: 3 BOYS AND 2 GIRLS;
FOUR WERE AFRICAN AMERICANS AND
ONE WAS SAMOAN.
THE BOYS LITERALLY TOWERED OVER
ME.
NOT HARD TO DO.
I WOULD LATER LEARN 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
REALIZE THAT I WAS IN WAY OVER
MY HEAD.
I FELT SO STRESSED I DIDN'T
FALL ASLEEP UNTIL 3:00 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 RISE 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 -- THE
NIGHT BEFORE I HAD BEEN TOLD
REPEATEDLY: DON'T WORRY, TRUST
THE PROCESS.
SO, I DID.
THAT MORNING WAS VERY PAINFUL
AND SOMETHING SHIFTED IN THE
AFTERNOON AND BY THE FOLLOWING
DAY THE ROOM HAD A TOTALLY 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 BY 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 ENROLL.
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
IS NO REASON WHY THIS SHOULD BE
THE CASE.
THERE IS NO REASON WHY SO MANY
YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD END UP
MARGINALIZED.
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
HAS 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 KIND 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.
HERE'S ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF A
SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY.
THERE IS AN ORGANIZATION IN
POLAND CALLED
BARKA,
WHICH MEANS “ARK.”
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.
WHO -- REALLY WHO IN THIS DAY
AND AGE WOULD IMAGINE THAT YOU
COULD BRING TOGETHER A GROUP OF
SO-CALLED UNTOU-- 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
TOMASZ 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 HAD 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'S 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 HAVE 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
WHY I THINK WHY THE STUDENTS
BECOME UNCHAINED SO QUICKLY IN
THAT ENVIRONMENT.
IN TORONTO YOU HAVE AN
ORGANIZATION CALLED ROOTS OF
EMPATHY FOUNDED BY A REMARKABLE
EDUCATOR NAMED MARY GORDON, WHO
IS HERE TONIGHT, WHICH HELPS
CHILDREN MASTER THE -- THE
SKILL OF EMPATHY.
ROOTS OF EMPATHY HAS ASSISTED
ALMOST 70,000 STUDENTS, RANGING
IN AGE FROM 3 TO 13.
TODAY THERE ARE MORE THAN 1100
CLASS-- CLASSROOMS ACROSS
CANADA RUNNING THE PROGRAM, AND
THE MODEL IS BEING 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
RECOGNIZE AND NAME OTHER
PEOPLE'S FEELINGS, WHICH HELPS
THEM TO MANAGE THEIR OWN.
STUDIES THAT 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 TODAY --
EMERGING AROUND THE WORLD TODAY
BY THE THOUSANDS.
THEY ARE SOLUTIONS CRAFTED BY
CITIZENS, OR 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
RECOGNIZE THE ROLE OF
INNOVATORS LIKE J.B. SCHRAMM,
MARY GORDON, AND BARBARA AND
TOMASZ 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 BEGAN
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
INSTALLMENTS OF 1 dollar 20 A WEEK.
THE REPAYMENT RATES WERE VERY
HIGH.
AT THE TIME THE GRAMEEN BANK -
THIS WAS 1991 - HAD 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
PROGRAMING 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 WILL FIND
THAT 9 OF THE DIRECTORS SITTING
AROUND THE BOARDROOM TABLE ARE
VILLAGE WOMEN.
I ENDED UP SPENDING 10 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
ORGANIZATIONS ENGAGED IN
MICROCREDIT 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 -- INTO
PERSPECTIVE.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT TENS OF
MILLIONS OF POOR FAMILIES NOW
ENJOY 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 INSTALLMENTS.
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
INSTALLMENTS 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 PEDDLING
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
INSTALLMENT 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 A DOLLAR A WEEK.
THE HOUSES HAVE CORRUGATED TIN
ROOFS, CEMENT PILLARS, 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 A HUNDRED
THOUSAND 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
SAME PRINCIPLE TO HELP SLUM
DWELLERS BUILD THEIR OWN
HOUSES -- 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
HOUSES.
VILLAGERS.
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 VEIN 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 --
REACHED THE INTENDED
RECIPIENTS, BUT TO ME IT'S
FASCINATING TO SEE HOW THE
MICROCREDIT 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 PAST
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 HAD ALWAYS FELT
WERE INTRACTABLE.
I ALSO SAW THAT THE BEST WAY TO
PRODUCE INNOVATIVE PROBLEM
SOLVING ORGANIZATIONS 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 ORGANIZATION CALLED
ASHOKA.
ASHOKA SEARCHES THE GLOBE FOR
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS IN ORDER
TO HELP THEM ALONG.
IT HAS SUPPORTED MORE THAN 1500
INNOVATORS IN 53 COUNTRIES AND
PROVIDED THEM WITH FINANCING
AND CONNECTING THEM IN A
FELLOWSHIP 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 -- 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 A
HUNDRED 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
ORGANIZATIONS AND ADVANCING
IDEAS THAT ARE RESHAPING THEIR
SOCIETIES.
SPEAKING WITH THESE -- THESE
PROBLEM SOLVERS, I WAS STRUCK
BY THE -- 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 MUHA-- 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 REVOLUTIONIZED
HEALTH CARE PRACTICES AND
PROFESSIONALIZED THE FIELD OF
NURSING, AND EVEN GANDHI, WHO
WAS 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 7-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 A HUNDRED
THOUSAND NEW ORGANIZATIONS, NEW
SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS WERE
ESTABLISHED -- WERE ESTABLISHED
IN THE FORMER COMMUNIST
COUNTRIES OF CENTRAL EUROPE.
SINCE THE EARLY '90s HUNDREDS
OF THOUSANDS OF NEW
ORGANIZATIONS HAVE BEEN
ESTABLISHED IN CANADA AND THE
UNITED STATES.
WE ALMOST NEVER HEAR ABOUT
THEM.
IN INDIA THERE ARE MORE THAN A
MILLION SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
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 OR --
AND 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
UNDERFUNDED 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 REAGAN'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 POLITICAL 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 -- THE
END OF THE 18th CENTURY WELL
OVER THREE-QUARTERS OF ALL
PEOPLE ALIVE WERE IN BONDAGE.
HE'S REFERRING TO ACTUAL
BONDAGE AS IN SLAVERY OR
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 OR FEUDAL
LORDS, GENERALS OR POLIT
BUREAUS, 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 ARE A WOMAN
OR A BLACK-SKINNED PERSON OR A
DISABLED PERSON OR A HOMOSEXUAL
OR ANY MEMBER OF A THOUSAND
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 OF
CHILDREN CLIMBED FROM 20 percent TO
80 percent.
EVEN SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS THE
DISSEMINATION OF IODIZED 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 LAND
MINES AND CREATED AN
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT,
BOTH OF THEM OVER THE
OBJECTIONS OF THE MOST POWERFUL
NATION STATE IN THE WORLD, THE
UNITED STATES.
MICROCREDIT, AS I MENTIONED, 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 -- IS ALIVE AND
WELL.
IN RECENT YEARS READING ABOUT
THE GENOCIDES IN BOSNIA, RWANDA
AND NOW DARFUR, ABOUT THE
TRAFFICKING OF -- OF SEX
SLAVES, ABOUT BOMBINGS AND
TRAINS AND CAFES, I HAVE 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
GREATER 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--
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 THEY ARE SO
MANY.
WESTERN SOCIETIES TAKE PRIDE IN
THEIR COMPASSION AND
RATIONALITY AND YET WE OFFER A
THOUSAND EXPLANATIONS ABOUT WHY
WE CAN'T INCREASE THE MINIMUM
AGE 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 A THIRD OF THE
PLANET'S NATURAL RESOURCES.
IT'S PRETTY OBVIOUS THAT WE ARE
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 WOULD
RATHER PRAY FOR GOOD HEALTH.
ACCORDING TO POLES, A THIRD OF
AMERICANS NOW BELIE-- 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 IT IN
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 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 INDUSTRIAL
COUNTRIES LIKE CANADA AND THE
UNITED STATES.
FOR ALMOST ALL OF RECORDED
HISTORY JUST ABOUT 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 CNT ON GRADUAL
CHANGE SO WE HAD A PRETTY GOOD
IDEA ABOUT WHAT TOMORROW MIGHT
BRING.
THAT WORLD DOESN'T EXIST
ANYMORE.
NOT IN CANADA, NOT IN BRAZIL,
NOT EVEN IN RURAL INDIA, WHERE
VILLAGERS WATCH THE SAME TV
SHOWS WE DO.
AND HISTORICALLY SPEAKING IT
HAS -- 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
GLOBALIZED, 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 EXPLAIN -- 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 MARGINALIZED,
THEY CLING TO CERTAINTIES.
THEY HAVE ALWAYS DONE SO.
INTERESTINGLY, IF YOU LOOK AT
THE 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 -- 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 DECENTRALIZED
SOLUTIONS THAN THE TOP TEN
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 -- 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'S 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 ORGANIZE
THEMSELVES INTELLIGENTLY TO
PRESERVE AND EXTEND THE
FREEDOMS 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 MAXIMIZE HIS
ECONOMIC SELF-INTEREST.
AT AROUND
THE SAME TIME I WAS ALSO
INTRODUCED TO THE PROLETARIAN
OF UTOPIAN SOCIALISM, WHO WAS
HAPPY TO WORK ACCORDING TO HIS
ABILITY AND RECEIVE ACCORDING
TO HIS NEED.
IN OTHER COURSES I ENCOUNTERED
THE NOBLE SAVAGE AND HOBBS'
WARRIOR AGAINST ALL, AND A
STRANGE HUMAN BEING IMAGINED BY
JOHN LOCKE WHO HAS NO INNATE
TENDENCIES.
PERSONALLY I HAVE NEVER COME ACROSS ANYONE
WHO RESEMBLES ANY OF THESE
PEOPLE.
BUT -- 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 -- ARE IN NEED OF
REPAIR.
WE HAVE 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
WILL BE AMAZED AT ONE THING
MORE THAN ANY OTHER.
IT IS THIS - THAT WE DO KNOW
MORE ABOUT OURSELVES NOW THAN
OTHER PEOPLE DID 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 ORGANIZATIONS, 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 --
IN UNWARRANTED PESSIMISM.
THEY RECOGNIZE 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 ORGANIZATIONS 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 THIS
SYSTEM, WHICH HAS 12,000
EMPLOYEES WHO EACH WEEK MAKE
THEIR WAY OVER MUDDY PATHS AND
ACROSS BAMBOO BRIDGES TO
COLLECT THEIR LOAN
INSTALLMENTS.
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 THEIR HOME,
USUALLY SITTING ON A CANE MAT
TAKING NOTES, WHILE THE WOMAN
GOES ABOUT HER BUSINESS
GRINDING CHILIES 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
ERZSEBET SZEKERES, 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 IS 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 PHONEBOOK WITH
DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNMENT
SCHEMES THAT HAVE FAILED
BECAUSE THEY FORGOT ABOUT THE
HUMAN ELEMENT.
AND TO MY MIND THE BIGGEST
CHALLENGE WE FACE TODAY -- THE
BIGGEST CHALLENGES WE FACE
TODAY ARE NOT TECHNOLOGICAL BUT
ORGANIZATIONAL.
THEY -- 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
REHYDRATION THERAPY, WHICH
PREVENTS CHILDREN FROM DYING
FROM DIARRHEA; VACCINES;
READING GLASSES, WATER FILTERS.
MILLIONS OF LIVES COULD BE
SAVED EACH YEAR SIMPLY BY
GETTING THEM INTO PEOPLE'S
HANDS.
THE INFORMATION THAT COULD HAVE
PREVENTED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF
DEATHS FROM THE TSUNAMI WAS --
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 HAVE MENTIONED
ABOVE, INVARIABLY I FIND THAT
THERE IS 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 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 I
HAVE 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 LUSTER OF
THE FIRMAMENT OF BARDS AND
SAGES, YET HE DISMISSES WITHOUT
NOTICE HIS THOUGHT BECAUSE IT
IS HIS.
IN EVERY WORK OF GENIUS WE
RECOGNIZE OUR OWN REJECTED
THOUGHTS: THEY COME BACK TO US
WITH A CERTAIN ALIENATED
MAJESTY.”
HOW DO WE COME TO TRUST OUR OWN
GLEAMS OF LIGHT?
IT HAS OFTEN BEEN OBSERVED THAT
ONLY 1 PERSON IN 10 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 NATIONAL -- 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 1268 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 -- 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?
TOMASZ 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 --
SCHOOLHOUSE.
WHEN I ASKED TOMASZ 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 THAT I DID THE RIGHT
THING.”
WHY IS IT THAT SOME PEOPLE STOP
AT THE WELL WHILE OTHERS
CONTINUE TO THE OPERA?
PEOPLE OFTEN ASK 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 ARE
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 AS A
CAM-- 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 EXPERIENCE 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 -- TO THE VOICE INSIDE
THEM THAT REMINDS THEM TO STAY
FAITHFUL TO THEIR CORE TRUTHS.
OVER THE
PAST YEAR I VISITED DOZENS OF
UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE UNITED
STATES AND CANADA AND HAVE
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'RE 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 HAVE 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
UNWILLING 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 I WORK 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 HAVE 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'RE
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 LITTLE
LIKE TODDLERS.
I WATCH MY 18-MONTH-OLD SON
ELIJAH.
HE'S CONSTANTLY 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 IS WORLDS 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 REALIZE, 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 WE'RE MOVING TOWARDS AN
ERA IN WHICH INDIVIDUALS AROUND
THE GLOBE WILL HAVE MORE AND
MORE OPTIONS AND SELF-ORGANIZED
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 AM
ASTONISHED BY THE LANDSCAPE OF
OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CITIZEN
SECTOR.
OPPORTUNITIES TO PURSUE YOUR
INTERESTS, APPLY YOUR TALENTS,
AND ACT IN LINE WITH YOUR VAL--
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 A HUNDRED
OTHER PEOPLE WHO MANAGE THOSE
ORGANIZATIONS, 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 -- THAT
DON'T EXIST YET, AND THAT MEANS
THAT YOUR GENERATION IS GOING
TO BUILD THEM.
ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO ARE
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.
THE 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'RE 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 -- 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
3-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.

[Long applause]

The clip ends and Andrew reappears in the studio with a caption that reads "Andrew Moodie."

He says BORNSTEIN
MENTIONED THE WORK OF MARY
GORDON, AND SOME OF YOU MAY
REMEMBER HER FROM THIS PROGRAM.
SHE APPEARED HERE TALKING ABOUT
HER WORK.
HE COULD HAVE
ALSO MENTIONED JOANNE THOMAS
YACCATO, A TORONTO WOMAN WHO IS
NOW THE HEAD OF THE
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE
CORPORATION OF THE WORLD BANK,
WHO HAS MADE IT HER JOB TO
CHANGE THE ATTITUDES OF AFRICAN
MEN ABOUT WOMEN IN BUSINESS.
BORNSTEIN KNOWS HIS SUBJECT
FROM A VERY PERSONAL
PERSPECTIVE, AND HE'S RIGHT:
COMPASSION IS THE FOUNDATION OF
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
THE STORY OF THE GRAMEEN BANK
HAS A LESSON FOR US ALL, BUT AS
HE SPOKE I WONDERED HOW MUCH
MORE USE IS THERE IN THIS
COUNTRY FOR VARIOUS FORMS OF
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
TO FIND OUT
WHAT IS COMING UP ON OUR
PROGRAM, SEND US AN E-MAIL TO
bigideas@tvo.org
FOR
BIG IDEAS,
I AM
ANDREW MOODIE.

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

bigideas@tvo.org

416-484-2746

Big Ideas. Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Producers, Lara Hindle, Mike Miner, Gregg Thurlbeck.

Logos: Unifor, Canadian Media Guild.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2007, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: David Bornstein