Top Ten Social Entrepreneurs of All Time

Looking for inspiration that you can make a difference, make money, make meaning? That is what social entrepreneurs do.  Here are my picks for the 10 Best Social Entrepreneurs of all time.  Hope they inspire you too.

1. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Founding Father, Inventor, Publisher, Statesman

Benjamin Frankline

One of our country’s most influential founders, this prodigious man never patented his inventions – including printing techniques, bifocal lens, lightning rods and the Franklin stove.  He believed “as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours.” But Franklin’s social invention -“paying forward” – is probably his greatest contribution of all. It not only endures, the concept seems more influential than ever.

2. CLARA BARTON, American Red Cross Founder, nurse, educator, first female federal employee (patent office clerk)

A shy child with a calling to help others, the teacher cum civil war nurse developed into a very determined woman, activist and advocate – for the injured and lost, women’s rights and the need for a US version of the International Red Cross.   Ultimately Barton convinced the President and Congress to grant a unique charter that endures and has woven the volunteer disaster relief and aid society into our American fabric – thereby saving society hundreds of millions of dollars a year too.

3. KLAUS SCHWAB, Founder of the World Economic Forum & Schwab Foundation For Social Entrepreneurship, Professor, Connector Extraordinaire,

Klaus Schwab

This German engineer and economist created the World Economic Forum as an nonprofit foundation committed to finding solutions to global problems in 1971. He built it into the foremost community of world leaders in business, government, academia and civil society. An invitation to participate in its’ annual Davos Summit represents the epitome of power. In 1998, Schwab and his wife, Hilde launched the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship to promote entrepreneurial solutions at the grassroots level too.

4. PATRICIA ALBJERG GRAHAM, Historian of Education, Author, Education Advocate & Activist

Graham was probably the first American to advocate that a good education for all children is the best route to a better world and work in powerful positions to accomplish this. She served as President of the National Institute of Education, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (and first female Dean at Harvard), President of global education research funder Spencer Foundation, consistently facilitating policies and programs that led to our current deep civic commitment to education reform efforts now.Pat Graham, social entrepreneur

Graham was probably the first American to advocate that a good education for all children is the best route to a better world and work in powerful positions to accomplish this. She served as President of the National Institute of Education, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (and first female Dean at Harvard), President of global education research funder Spencer Foundation, consistently facilitating policies and programs that led to our current deep civic commitment to education reform efforts now.

5-7. BILL & MELINDA GATES, WARREN BUFFET, Billionaire Founders of “The Giving Pledge”Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

As of January 2015, 128 billionaire individuals or couples have committed to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. If they all do so with similar thoughtful effort as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Warren Buffet, bill and melinda gateshttp://www.gatesfoundation.org, this pledge could foster greater change for the better than any other initiative in history. Of course, even billionaires are human too…

8.  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder (and Giving Pledge Signer)

Facebook's Mark Zucke

Even if social ineptness did push Zuckerberg to launch Facebook, he is still the most successful online social entrepreneur in history – connecting 1.4 billion people around the world through a company whose About Us page emphasizes all the ways it helps.

The Jerusalem Post called this 30 year old the World’s Most Influential Jew too.

Because he is only 30 and seems to have married well – wife Priscilla is a daughter of boat refugees, former teacher and recent medical school grad – we should be hopeful that he can accomplish all the good inherent in his Giving Pledge too. The Zuckerbergs already have donated $120 million to help San Francisco’s public schools.

9. BLAKE MYCOSKIE, Founder of TOMS Shoes and Eyeglasses,

Creator of One for One ® Business Model

greatestsocial3

It might seem a stretch to put the founder of a business that has sold a mere 35 million shoes and even fewer glasses in the same category as founders of our country and other businesses generating billions of whatever. But, Mycoskie’s One for One® economic model seems to be a new iteration of Franklin’s pay it forward capitalism. And it’s working. For every pair of shoes sold, Toms donates another pair to needy children around the world. For every pair of glasses sold, Toms gives the gift of sight.

A growing number of savvy businesses are imitating this too.

10.  ADAM GRANT, Business Professor, Author, Consultant, Social Justice Advocate

Adam Gross, Photo Source: Forbes

Adam Gross, Photo Source: Forbes

The youngest tenured professor in Wharton’s history uses data and rigorous research techniques to prove that the most successful people in business look to help others.  Consequently, most successful businesses are rushing to work with Grant – including Google and Goldman Sachs.  In the process, Grant has become a champion for equality too, as evidenced by his recent NY Times OpEd co-written with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg (author of “Lean In”) explaining how men also benefit when women succeed in the boardroom.

One thought on “Top Ten Social Entrepreneurs of All Time

  1. Pingback: Living The Dream: Everyone Deserves One Good Chance | Susan B. Noyes MIB Founder's Blog

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