From the time he was in elementary schools, Bill Drayton was a changemaker. His parents and the principal of the school conspired to allow Bill bloom in his early entrepreneurial efforts. Bill went on the attend Harvard, Oxford and Yale. He worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company and for the Environmental Protection Agency. Eventually Bill and a few friends took a tour of India by Volkswagen Microbus. This trip changed Bill’s life.
In 1980 Bill founded Ashoka and the following year elected the first Ashoka Fellows in India. Bill told me, “There was no word for social entrepreneur. We had to make it up.” Since that time, Ashoka has selected over 3,500 changemakers to be Fellows. Ashoka uses five criteria:
- An idea that changes the pattern
- Entrepreneurial quality
- Ethical fiber
- Social impact.
Over time, Ashoka has evolved from focusing on individual fellows to a network of fellows to the idea of “Everyone a changemaker.” In this interview, Bill argues that, because the world is in a constant state of change, the key skills of empathy, teamwork, leadership and changemaking are required for every person on the planet.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Bill Drayton:
“We need entrepreneurs for human rights and health and education as much as for steel and electronics.”
“Over half of the Ashoka fellows have changed national policy within five years of launch. And three-quarters have changed the pattern within five years.”
“The world is at a tipping point, from a world defined by repetition, think assembly line or law firm, to one defined by the opposite of repetition, change.”
“Once we’re convinced we see the new pattern, then we do something we call collaborative entrepreneurship jujitsu.”
“The most powerful force in the world is a big idea if it’s in the hands of a great entrepreneur.”
“The first five years, we were learning how to do this.”
“Give yourself permission. The world tells you, you can’t. What that usually means is, those who tell you, you can’t, they didn’t. And if you do, they’re going to ask themselves, well did I really live my life well?”
“There’s no way the problems outrun the solutions when everyone’s a changemaker, we’re in it for the good of all, and we love working together and we know how to do it.”
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