Social Entrepreneurs

Historical Examples of Leading Social Entrepreneurs

Susan B. Anthony
(U.S.) - Fought for Women's Rights in the United States, including the right to control property and helped spearhead adoption of the 19th amendment.

David Brower (U.S.) - Environmentalist and conservationist, he served as the Sierra Club's first executive director and built it into a worldwide network for environmental issues. He also founded Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and The Earth Island Institute.

Vinoba Bhave
(India) - Founder and leader of the Land Gift Movement, he caused the redistribution of more than 7,000,000 acres of land to aid India's untouchables and landless. Mahatma Gandhi described him as his mentor

Frederick Law Olmstead (U.S.) - Creator of major urban parks, including Rock Creek Park in Washington DC and Central Park in NYC, he is generally considered to have developed the profession of landscape architecture in America

Mary Montessori (Italy) - Developed the Montessori approach to early childhood education
Gifford Pinchot (U.S.) - Champion of the forest as a multiple use environment, he helped found the Yale School of Forestry and created the U.S. Forest Service, serving as its first chief

Florence Nightingale (U.K.) - Founder of modern nursing, she established the first school for nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions

Margaret Sanger (U.S.) - Founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she led the movement for family planning efforts around the world

John Muir (U.S.) - Naturalist and conservationist, he established the National Park System and helped found The Sierra Club.

Jean Monnet (France) - Responsible for the reconstruction and modernization of the French economy following World War II, including the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The ECSC and the European Common Market were Monnet's mechanisms to integrate Europe and were direct precursers of the European Union, which have shaped the course of European history and global international affairs.

John Woolman (U.S.) - Led U.S. Quakers to voluntarily emancipate all their slaves between 1758 and 1800, his work also influenced the British Society of Friends, a major force behind the British decision to ban slaveholding. Quakers, of course, became a major force in the U.S. abolitionist movement as well as a key part of the infrastructure of the Underground Railroad.


Present Day Social Entrepreneurs

Dr.Verghese Kurien (India) - Founder of the AMUL Dairy Project which has revolutionized the dairy industry through the production chain of milk, small producers, consumer products and health benefits

Bill Drayton (U.S) - Founded Ashoka, Youth Venture, and Get America Working!

Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh) - Founder of microcredit and the Grameen Bank

Muhammad Ynus: Oxford World Forum 2007


Social Entrepreneur Videos

Muhammad Yunus: Building Social Business Ventures (preview)


Social Entrepreneurs: Ashoka Series