Big names and ideas in social entrepreneurship

Particularly in recent years, the term “social entrepreneurship” has gained a lot of popularity.  Around the world, people are developing novel approaches to tackle “intractable problems,” combining business acumen with a passion to transform behaviors and society for better health and increased development.  Surely these ideas sound familiar to BRAC, who has had elements of social entrepreneurship in its operating philosophy since its earliest days.

Recently several high-profile lists of top social entrepreneurs have been released.  Forbes listed 30 “High Impact” individuals working on new technologies, increasing access to global markets, and many other important issues (Thanks Tonny apa for sending this to us).  Many of these individuals were motivated by a story, either a personal experience or observing the challenges confronting someone else, and had the courage to think, “What if we did…….?” and follow it through.

Skoll Foundation is a US-based group that supports social entrepreneurship.  They just announced several winners of “citizen-driven change.”  It’s worth taking a look at these projects and the winners themselves–they are tackling issues like land rights, informal workers, and economic development in slums–the very issues that are of growing importance where BRAC works as well.  Let’s steal good ideas from other places and figure out which ones can work for us.  And call it innovation 🙂

If that’s not enough cool ideas for one day, check out Ashoka’s changemakers winners.  The project linking cocacola distribution chains with health products in Zambia is pretty interesting.  BRAC has a national distribution network in Bangladesh–are there partners that we should be looking to create access to our communities?

We often talk about BRAC’s impact in the millions, but where the seed of the idea starts is often much more humble.  It’s over lunch, in a meeting, or in a discussion with a client about a challenge she’s facing.  Maybe it was a lightbulb moment while stuck in a traffic jam! These seemingly small moments are an important part of the innovation process, and one that often goes unrecorded or unrecognized.  Social Innovation Lab essentially wants to create a “birth registry” for ideas so that we can look at the life of innovations–past, present, and future.  Do you have one you can share?  Maybe we can make a list of “high-impact” ideas or changemakers here at BRAC…..we know they are out there….

Update from Ishita in HRLS:  We submitted an entry in the Changemakers competition; we were one of the 19 semifinalists out of a total of 211 entries.

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