Edited by Dr KK Tse

As Social Enterprise Summit grows from strength to strength in recent years, I would like to make a modest contribution by introducing an annual series of ‘Books for the Year’. My purpose is two-fold:

  • I want to recommend to the readers some important books containing knowledge and insights that could deepen the social entrepreneurship movement;
  • I would like to see that those who read and learn from these books could become part of a community providing intellectual leadership for promoting and sustaining social entrepreneurship in this part of the world.

Anyone who commits to reading at least one of these titles is encouraged to register with me as a member of an on-line study group so that we could share our learning and application in the course of the year. In addition, I would like to organize a gathering on the day immediately before next year’s Summit so that members of the study group could meet and exchange views on the usefulness and relevance of these books for their work.

Five Books, One Theme

Tactics of Hope: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Changing the World
by Wilford Welch (San Rafael.: Palace Press International, 2008)

SEN88 - Image 1

“Innovative and inspiring….Tactics of Hope is for any individual looking to make a difference in the world.” – Desmond Tutu

“Wilford excites our social entrepreneurial instincts by helping us turn our
thoughts into actions.” – Barry Lopez

The Tactics of Hope is a groundbreaking book that will give you hope and inspiration to move from concern to passion and action. In the news, we hear all about the pain and suffering. Creative solutions are here: this book tells twenty-seven stories of social entrepreneurs from around the world, places as diverse as the Amazon Rainforest, Himalayan Mountains, New Orleans, villages in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Silicon Valley. Rich or poor, male or female, this book teaches you how to create opportunities and careers that do well for yourself and do good for the world.

One Day, All Children….the Unlikely Triumph of Teach for America and What I Learned Along the Way by Wendy Kopp (N.Y.: PublicAffairs, 2003)

SEN88 - Image 2

“A diary of a social entrepreneur, an inspiring how-to guide for young people
with big dreams, a thoughtful tale of ups and downs of a decade at the stunningly successful nonprofit organization.” – The New York Times

“Frank, winning, and well timed…. Kopp has brought a fresh approach to the educational process that has proved effective; her inspiring story will challenge schools and professional educators to take notice, while motivating college seniors and recent graduates to join her team.” – Publisher Weekly

Teach for America is one of the most important nonprofit organizations ever created in America. The fact that it was the brainchild of a young university graduate makes it all the more inspiring and significant. Wendy Kop is the founder and CEO of Teach for America. She has become an icon of what young persons can do to change the world.

Building Social Business: the New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs by Muhammad Yunus (N.Y.: PublicAffairs, 2010)

SEN88 - Image 3

“The book is a refreshingly easy read…Yunus fills his book with practical examples, tactics, ideas, and insights.” – Stanford Social Innovation Review

“Yunus’s approach is balanced and practical. His is a case of a noted economist
making a journey into the real world to face real problems and happily using his personal brand to strike tie-ups with leading multinationals to solve these problems. He needs to be read, understood; and he needs to be judged not only on his results, but on the sheer weight of his efforts. While high profile outfits such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have helped raise visibility in the sector, there is still little understanding of social business. This is an excellent read in that space.” – BusinessWorld (India)

Yunus is the world’s leading social entrepreneur. He is also a US-trained economist. After he has achieved immense success in building a series of social businesses, he began to reflect on the assumption and relevance of contemporary economic theories. He is now leading a bigger movement, that of multiplying the number of social businesses around the world.

In this book, Yunus shows how social business has gone from being a theory to an inspiring practice, adopted by leading corporations including BASF, Intel, Danone, Veolia and Adidas, as well as entrepreneurs and social activists across Asia, South America, Europe, Africa, and the United States. He demonstrates how social business transforms lives; offers practical guidance for those who want to create social businesses of their own; explains how public and corporate policies must adapt to make room for the social business model; and shows why social business holds the potential to redeem the failed promise of free-market enterprise.

Capitalism at the Crossroads: Next Generation Business Strategies for a Post-Crisis World by Stuart L. Hart (Wharton School Publishing, 2010)

SEN88 - Image 4

“The third edition of Capitalism at the Crossroads arrives at a pivotal moment – it follows the world’s most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. As we address the recession’s dire consequences and rebound from the brink of economic collapse, Stuart Hart proposes a sustainable, socially responsible model of capitalism and compels us to seize the opportunities afforded by a fresh start.” – Bill Clinton

“Stuart Hart presents a systematic thinking towards sustainable business, full of creativity, wisdom and enlightenment.” – Jining Chen, Vice-President, Tsinghua University

The capitalist world needs to change, and changes fast. It has become more urgent and imperative day by day. This book explains why we cannot afford to wait and where we should be heading.

Like everyone in the world, I was shocked by the financial tsunami that swept the globe. But the greatest shock came a couple of years later when I witnessed so many people going back to ‘business as usual’ as if nothing has happened. This book has a powerful message: The age of ‘mercenary’ capitalism is ending. The writing is on the wall. No one could afford to continue burying their heads in the sand.

The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Changed the World by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan (Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Scholl Press, 2008)

SEN88 - Image 5

“Lately, I’ve felt that the social entrepreneurship movement has grown too large,
encompassing too many sub-topics that don’t necessarily relate to each other. With their new book, however, authors John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan manage to unite the wide-ranging discipline of social entrepreneurship, using sharp analysis, compelling anecdotes and an eye towards future study. Simply put, this book is a must-read for the ‘social entrepreneurship’ crowd.” – Rob Katz

“This comprehensive and thoughtful book offers a great single source for understanding the amazing variety of social entrepreneurs throughout the world. With the burgeoning of interest among scholars, students, foundations, and policymakers, The Power of Unreasonable People should join the short list of required reading on social entrepreneurship.” – Rick Aubry

According to George Bernard Shaw, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable ones persist in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Indeed, social entrepreneurs are all unreasonable men and women. It is their unreasonableness that makes them such a formidable force in changing the world for the better. Read this book, and you will never be contented to be reasonable again.

Images from Amazon.com