How can one person, or a small group of them, make a difference in the world? The news and social media bombard us with reports of a multitude of seemingly insurmountable problems and crises—from education and healthcare to the climate and genocide—that call out for solutions that governments alone can’t or won’t provide. As individuals, we’re often left to feel helpless, no matter how genuine our desire to take action.
Zachary D. Kaufman, editor of Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities: Changing Our World, suggests taking a different look at how we confront large-scale problems. He suggests that people of all ages and abilities can make a difference in the world through social entrepreneurship, which he defines as innovative ventures—whether for-profit, not-for-profit, or some combination—that seek to further social goals. He provides insight into the concept, history, and controversies of social entrepreneurship as he traces its roots to organizations including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army and discusses contemporary examples such as Rwanda’s Kigali Public Library (the first in the nation) and Indego Africa (which empowers women artisans in Africa through employment and education)
He examines how the private sector and nonprofit organizations can come together to help solve social and environmental ills, and the problems and opportunities that arise when nongovernmental organizations take this leadership role.
Kaufman is an academic specializing in political science, public policy, and law. He is a senior fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a visiting fellow at Yale Law School and Yale University’s Genocide Studies Program, and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.