If you are an impact-driven entrepreneur, or a Changemaker wannabe, here is my list of ‘must-read’ books for social entrepreneurs – I recommend you to read!
Reading brings a lot of inspiration, it opens our eyes on things we did not see, and can give us so much courage to go on with our vision! I divided the list into 3 key phases of development of a social enterprise journey. Whether you are interested by social entrepreneurship and need inspiration, or you have a project idea and want to get started, or you have started your own social business and want to grow it further, those books got you covered!
- How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (by David Bornstein)
In this book, David Bornstein gathers a collection of case studies and inspiring stories from different countries. First published in 2007 (and updated since with new and more recent examples), Amazon describes the book as “the Bible for social entrepreneurship”. And I agree! Plus, it has been distributed in over 20 countries… That many people can’t be wrong ;)
Click here for more info >> How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
- Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs (by Pr. Muhammad Yunus)
Who doesn’t know the father of Microfinance, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and advocate for the concept of Social Business, Professor Muhammad Yunus? His book is a must read not only for who Yunus is, but also because it is super easy to read, well written, funny even, and soooooooooooo convincing. Read it, and then give it to your most sceptical friend/colleague ever! I promise no one can resist it ;)
- The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World (by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan)
This is a must-read for 3 reasons: First, John Elkington is the father of the triple bottom line. Second, Pamela Hartigan is the director of Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. And third, this book is full of insights that PROVE that being unreasonable is the best thing we can do to change the world for the better – in a financially sustainable way. What I love most is that they take a “mainstream market” angle, that makes everyone and anyone a part of. Including YOU!
Click here for more info >> The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World
# Getting started
- Start Something That Matters (by Blake Mycoskie)
TOMs might be one of the most famous social enterprise. And even if its one-for-one model can be discussed, I still think this is a must read! I love the way Blake Mycoskie’s tells his story, and encourages readers to also start something that matter. He is not shy writing about the mistakes he made (so you don’t repeat them!) or difficult times he went through. You’ll definitely feel like, “if he can do it, why not me?!”
Click here for more info >> Start Something That Matters
- 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship (by Neetal Parekh)
Imagine someone had the answer to ALL the questions you ask yourself since you got started as a social entrepreneur… well, that’s exactly what 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship is about! Neetal Parekh offers you all the answers you dream to know, through the lens of 3 hopeful social entrepreneurs (Sara, Tino and Jay) launching their first social enterprise.
Click here for more info >> 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship: Social Impact Through Business, An Actionable Q&A (English Edition)
- The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook: Pressure Test, Plan, Launch and Scale Your Social Enterprise (by Ian C. MacMillan and Dr. James Thompson)
What I like in this guidebook, is that it explains in details all the steps any Social Enterprise founder has to go through. If you’re getting started, you probably feel overwhelmed with the quantity of things to figure out… And this book can make your life much easier! My piece of advice is to read it little by little, step-by-step, so you can implement along the way.
# Make a (big) difference
- Meeting of the Minds: The Social Entrepreneur’s Roadmap for Collaborations That Work (by Danielle Carruthers and Solène Pignet)
Because you can’t change the world all by yourself! And because it is much more fun to collaborate than to compete… even if that is often easier said than done. This book offers a practical approach to make your collaborations (big and small) more efficient. It includes a step by step roadmap, case studies, bonus tools (such as email template and questions to ask during your first “date” with a potential collaborator).
Oh, and I am the co-author(!!!), alongside with one of my closest collaborator Danielle Carruthers! Who can better share how collaborations work then impact entrepreneurs themselves collaborating?!
Click here for more info >> Meeting of the Minds: The Social Entrepreneur’s Roadmap for Collaborations that Work (English Edition)
- Succeeding at Social Enterprise: Hard-Won Lessons for Nonprofits and Social Entrepreneurs (by the Social Enterprise Alliance)
Although this book can be used by Social Entrepreneurs wannabes, I find it especially useful when you have validated your idea (with a pilot project or couple of early-adopters clients) and want to professionalise the support tasks such as managing and leading a team, business planning, marketing and sales, or accounting. Very practical, and very action-oriented with real-life examples and “hard-won lessons” that can apply to both non-profits and for-profit social enterprises.
Click here for more info >> Succeeding at Social Enterprise: Hard-Won Lessons for Nonprofits and Social Entrepreneurs
- Scaling Social Entrepreneurship: Lessons Learned from One Laptop per Child (by Robert H. Hacker)
Do you know One Laptop Per Child? The non profit distributing low-cost computers in (as many as possible) developing countries! Well, Robert H. Hacker, the author, spent three years as their CFO, and explains the “behind the scenes” of scaling such a Social Enterprise Venture. Although not everything is replicable – especially for ‘for-profit social enterprises’ – the lessons learned are very insightful!
Click here for more info >> Scaling Social Entrepreneurship: Lessons Learned from One Laptop per Child
What about YOUR favorite book? Share it in the comments below!!!
Solène is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Creators for Good.
She developed a methodology that allows Global Citizen to start and grow their own impactful businesses from anywhere in the world – and with no need for investors or government support.