Bill Drayton: An icon for social entrepreneurs

Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka. Photo by: Nam-ho Park / CC BY

Last month, Bill Drayton traveled to Paris to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ashoka, the nonprofit he founded to empower social entrepreneurs around the globe to affect positive change in their communities. On his way back from the French capital, the global development icon answered three questions posed by Devex via email:

1. You’re in Paris celebrating Ashoka’s 30th anniversary with your colleagues. Are social entrepreneurs more social than others?

2. A social entrepreneur without a cell phone. How does that work?

3. When was the last time you felt truly grateful?

Drayton responded:

Brief answers: (1) Yes; (2) I have one but it has had a nervous breakdown; and (3) now (and always).

Expanding on the first: As change continues to accelerate, all the basic systems of life are changing. Who leads systems change? It is entrepreneurs. That is what they do.

However, as systems change faster and faster, they will spin off in unhelpful ways periodically. Our loss of privacy is one of today’s obvious examples. What will keep the world’s architecture guiding us in good directions? That is what defines social entrepreneurs. This core being (and therefore their work) is committed to the good of all.

We need to ensure that they are as powerful as possible. That is a core Ashoka objective.

Ashoka’s new collaborative entrepreneurship approach, which enables hundreds of the world’s best social entrepreneurs and allies to entrepreneur the key needed changes into being together, is a giant step forward towards that goal. It makes us a global team of teams. It is the step beyond solo practitioner.

Read last week’s 3 Questions.

About the author

  • Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.