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Bill Drayton and Sally Osberg on Growth and Transformation of Social Entrepreneurship

By Bill Drayton and Sally Osberg

What are social entrepreneurs? What are the unique ways in which they work to achieve lasting solutions to the enormous problems facing humankind? What makes social entrepreneurship different from other approaches to social change?

Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka, and Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, sat down with Skoll’s Director of Public Engagement Suzana Grego to discuss these questions, and to talk about why they continue to be excited by the social entrepreneurship movement as it grows and transforms. See the transcript of the interview here.

A defining feature of the social entrepreneur’s approach is the focus on equilibrium change—moving from an unjust status quo to a new, more just and harmonious order. Sally Osberg explains.

Once we recognize the power of social entrepreneurs to create massive change for the better, the next question is, as Bill Drayton asks: “How do we build a community that enables entrepreneurs, the great entrepreneurs for the good of all, to work together?” This has been the focus of Ashoka and the Skoll Foundation.

One response to this question of how to build an international community of social entrepreneurs has been the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England. It’s an event that brings the community together once a year in the same physical space to help accelerate this global movement for change.

The growing global community of social entrepreneurs offers a creative and hopeful response to a rapidly changing world filled with big, complex problems. It’s an approach rooted in caring and empathy, Bill Drayton says.

There’s no denying it, the problems we face are enormous, and things often seem to be going in the wrong direction. But Sally Osberg finds reasons for hope: “the degree of fearlessness and determination that social entrepreneurs bring to these challenges is I think exceptional.”

Social entrepreneurs are “the peacemakers, the bridge builders, they’re bringing trust and bringing new potential for unification into society,” says Sally Osberg.

How is social entrepreneurship changing? Bill Drayton is thrilled to see the movement growing and evolving, to see people working together for the common good.

Sally Osberg thinks about social entrepreneurship within the broader context of organizations, institutions, and movements for social change. It’s incumbent on social entrepreneurs to understand where they fit within this larger ecosystem.

“Entrepreneurs listen,” says Bill Drayton. “If you’re not listening, you’ll never succeed.”

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