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For Bill Drayton, “the most powerful force in the world is a big idea—if it is in the hands of a great entrepreneur. It’s how a very small investment can make a huge difference.” As the founder and CEO of Arlington-based Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, Drayton and his organization have been making those investments and differences on a global scale since 1981. By funding and supporting social entrepreneurs—individuals working beyond the boundaries of government and business—he’s had a direct impact on projects and policies that have been spearheaded by more than 3,000 change-makers in more than 70 countries.
Bill Drayton is the recipient of the Smithsonian Associates’ 13th annual Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award in honor of his pioneering work in social entrepreneurship and public service, as well as his richness of ideas and originality of thought. Drayton discusses how his work has challenged and expanded the definition of traditional social philanthropy in a conversation with David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas.
The annual award recognizes and celebrates influential thinkers, innovators, and catalysts in the arts, sciences, and humanities, in both traditional and emerging disciplines. Previous recipients were Yo-Yo Ma, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Eric Kandel, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Jules Feiffer, Ted Turner, Lisa Randall, Meryl Streep, Greg Mortenson, Johnetta Cole, and Mark Morris.
The Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award is made possible by the Creativity Collaboration, a joint project of The Smithsonian Associates and the Creativity Foundation.
Meet Ashoka's own amongst Forbes' 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs.