What is a Social Entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is a changemaker--an innovative leader who uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve social problems in communities, regions, countries and sometimes the whole world.

Social entrepreneurs act on powerful ideas to improve the lives of the poor and disenfranchised through non profit and profit-oriented enterprises.

There are hundreds of successful social entrepreneurs working for positive social and economic change throughout the world.  Illustrative examples are:

  • PATH, headed by Dr. Chistopher Elias, works in more than 100 countries in the areas of reproductive health; vaccines and immunization; HIV, AIDS, and tuberculosis; and children’s health and nutrition. It has developed and distributed cost-effective technologies that have saved the lives of millions.
  • Barefoot College, founded by Bunker Roy, turns rural high school “dropouts” into “barefoot” doctors, engineers, architects, teachers and IT specialists, bringing the benefits of improved technologies to hundreds of thousands across India.
  • CAMBIA and BIOS, operated by Richard Jefferson, pioneers an open source system to transform the way biotechnological innovation is carried out, allowing local scientists and breeders to improve agricultural productivity and profitability in developing countries.
  • Ciudad Saludable, the brainchild of Albina Ruiz, has turned waste collection in slum areas into a profitable enterprise, providing employment for thousands of community members. As a result of its work, health and living conditions have improved for the 3 million low income people it serves.
  • One World Health, led by Dr. Victoria Hale, is the world’s first non profit pharmaceutical company to complete new drug development for diseases of the world’s poorest people. Donated IP from pharma and biotech companies is the backbone for further drug development and deployment for those most in need.