100 books like Social Entrepreneurship

By David Bornstein, Susan Page Davis,

Here are 100 books that Social Entrepreneurship fans have personally recommended if you like Social Entrepreneurship. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs

Alex Counts Author Of Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship

From my list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’s commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, Grameen Foundation has grown to become a leading international humanitarian organization. Today he is an independent consultant to mission-driven organizations, a prolific writer, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland who loves to teach nonprofit leadership and related subjects. 

Alex's book list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important

Alex Counts Why did Alex love this book?

I love all four of this Nobel Peace Prize laureates' books, including his first (Banker to the Poor) that I helped edit, but this one is the best of them all.  He describes his vision of a new economy that is driven by social businesses – companies that are created to drive social change, through a business strategy.  By the time this book came out, he had multiple successful examples of this new hybrid model to describe to the reader – and he does so in a succinct and highly compelling way.  Importantly, he explains how his model is distinct from not only traditional nonprofits but also from social enterprises funded by impact investors. 

By Muhammad Yunus, Karl Weber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building Social Business as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Muhammad Yunus, the practical visionary who pioneered microcredit and, with his Grameen Bank, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, has developed a new dimension for capitalism which he calls "social business." The social business model has been adopted by corporations, entrepreneurs, and social activists across the globe. Its goal is to create self-supporting, viable commercial enterprises that generate economic growth as they produce goods and services to fulfill human needs. In Building Social Business , Yunus shows how social business can be put into practice and explains why it holds the potential to redeem the failed promise of free-market enterprise.


Book cover of The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook: How to Start, Build, and Run a Business That Improves the World

Alex Counts Author Of Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship

From my list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’s commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, Grameen Foundation has grown to become a leading international humanitarian organization. Today he is an independent consultant to mission-driven organizations, a prolific writer, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland who loves to teach nonprofit leadership and related subjects. 

Alex's book list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important

Alex Counts Why did Alex love this book?

This guidebook in the form of a memoir, or memoir in the form of a guidebook, is both highly entertaining and profoundly useful.  Through brutally honest stories from his years leading FINCA, the global microfinance network, Scofield shows how social change happens: one mistake, one insight, and one breakthrough at a time.  By laying them out so clearly and in such a reader-friendly format, he has provided a valuable gift to a new generation of changemakers.

By Rupert Scofield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The reader gains an insightful view of the author's personal journey and the processes involved when setting up a social enterprise. Its distinctive style makes it useful for readers who are looking for a thorough account of setting up a not-for-profit organisation or social enterprise" Phoenix, Jan 2012


Book cover of Reclaiming Our Democracy: Healing the break between people and government.

Alex Counts Author Of Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship

From my list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’s commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, Grameen Foundation has grown to become a leading international humanitarian organization. Today he is an independent consultant to mission-driven organizations, a prolific writer, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland who loves to teach nonprofit leadership and related subjects. 

Alex's book list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important

Alex Counts Why did Alex love this book?

Daley-Harris chronicles his experience founding and leading RESULTS, a scrappy and highly effective anti-poverty advocacy organization, and later his work to embed his insights into other organizations working on other crucial issues such as climate change.  His stories of citizens studying issues and then acting in concert with others to drive desperately-needed policy changes and divert hundreds of millions of dollars to effective programs are instructive as well as inspirational.  In this edition, he helpfully breaks down his tactics for spurring unprecedented and highly successful citizen advocacy into bite-sized steps that any organization can adapt.

By Sam Daley-Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reclaiming Our Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most people see working to end global poverty and ensure a stable climate as a fool s errand. Add to that the Citizens United decision and the flood of money rushing into politics and the despair grows deeper. But activist and author Sam Daley-Harris has helped thousands of ordinary citizens transform from hopeless bystanders to powerful advocates.

This 20th anniversary edition has a new chapter on the groundbreaking work of Citizens Climate Lobby, an increasingly powerful new advocacy group following the RESULTS model, and another new chapter on the Center for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation, a new initiative focused on…


Book cover of The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

Dale Hanson Bourke Author Of Strong Girls, Strong World: A Practical Guide to Helping Them Soar--and Creating a Better Future for Us All

From my list on helping you make the world a better place.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I lost a baby late in my pregnancy, I was overwhelmed by grief. And then I learned that tens of thousands of babies died every day from preventable causes. I couldn’t save my own baby, but I wanted to know how to help others. I joined the board of World Vision and then other groups, including Opportunity International, MAP International, and International Justice Mission. I took numerous trips to developing countries and eventually headed a foundation dedicated to maternal health. I listened to the stories of women and tried to tell them to the world through a variety of international publications. I'm forever grateful to those who changed the way I see the world.

Dale's book list on helping you make the world a better place

Dale Hanson Bourke Why did Dale love this book?

Jacqueline Novogratz was a successful young woman with a promising career in banking who wanted to truly understand global poverty and find ways to tackle it.

This book tells not only the remarkable story of a favorite hand-knit blue sweater she donated in Virginia and saw again in Rwanda, but her own sometimes fumbling ways to connect her experiences to women living in poverty.

I love this book for its honesty and how the author shares her own mistakes as well as understandings.

By Jacqueline Novogratz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Blue Sweater as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A book of hope written by a practical idealist who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to building a better world.”—Former U.S. senator Bill Bradley
 
Jacqueline Novogratz left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. From her first stumbling efforts as a young idealist venturing forth in Africa to the creation of the trailblazing organization she runs today, Novogratz tells gripping stories with unforgettable characters. She shows how traditional charity often fails, but how a…


Book cover of Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works

Joe Carlen Author Of A Brief History of Entrepreneurship: The Pioneers, Profiteers, and Racketeers Who Shaped Our World

From my list on the impact of entrepreneurship on society.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an entrepreneur and a professional business valuation specialist, I have a passion for understanding entrepreneurship and its often-transformational impact on society/civilization. Having worked with many business owners and inventors over the years, I've noticed that money is not always the primary motivating factor for entrepreneurs. In many instances, the benefits their products and services are intended to provide—and, in some instances, the wider social implications of those benefits—are what animates these business adventurers the most. So, these days when the work of NewSpace entrepreneurs like Musk, Bezos, and Branson are likely leading humankind to a multiplanetary future, it's an opportune time to explore the impact of entrepreneurship on society. 

Joe's book list on the impact of entrepreneurship on society

Joe Carlen Why did Joe love this book?

One of the more readable books on the topic of social entrepreneurship, Getting Beyond Better clarifies the mission of the modern social entrepreneur. Like many governments, the social entrepreneur is seeking to provide goods and services to fellow citizens but, unlike most governments, this do-gooder also must contend with the imperative to turn a profit, albeit not to the same extent as most “regular” entrepreneurs. 

Within this distinctive paradigm, social entrepreneurs may be empowered to tackle social problems in ways that are more sustainable, equitable, and benevolent than purely profit-driven entrepreneurship is capable of. For those eager to “do well” for themselves while “doing good” for society, Getting Beyond Better offers a compelling blueprint.

By Roger L. Martin, Sally Osberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Getting Beyond Better as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who drives transformation in society? How do they do it? In this compelling book, strategy guru Roger L. Martin and Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally R. Osberg describe how social entrepreneurs target systems that exist in a stable but unjust equilibrium and transform them into entirely new, superior, and sustainable equilibria. All of these leaders--call them disrupters, visionaries, or changemakers--develop, build, and scale their solutions in ways that bring about the truly revolutionary change that makes the world a fairer and better place. The book begins with a probing and useful theory of social entrepreneurship, moving through history to…


Book cover of Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good

Jacob Harold Author Of The Toolbox: Strategies for Crafting Social Impact

From my list on social change strategy.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eight years old, my family went for a hike on Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak in my home state of North Carolina. We stumbled on a horror scene: most of the trees on the mountain were scarred skeletons; we were witnesses to mass death from acid rain. Since then, I’ve devoted myself to trying to nudge human action towards good. At Greenpeace I chained myself to fences, at the Hewlett Foundation I oversaw millions of dollars in grants, as GuideStar CEO I helped lead a technology platform used by millions of donors and do-gooders. I’ve been blessed to work with some of the best thinkers and doers in business, philanthropy, and government.

Jacob's book list on social change strategy

Jacob Harold Why did Jacob love this book?

In social change, it’s easy enough to think you can look at a problem, map out a plan, and execute it. But reality always gets in the way.

In Lean Impact, Ann Mei Chang Shows how to bring an iterative approach to doing good in the world. Translating the “Lean Startup” methodology to social change, Chang shows that it is possible to listen, to learn, and to get results.  

By Ann Mei Chang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lean Impact as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite enormous investments of time and money, are we making a dent on the social and environmental challenges of our time? What if we could exponentially increase our impact?

Around the world, a new generation is looking beyond greater profits, for meaningful purpose. But, unlike business, few social interventions have achieved significant impact at scale. Inspired by the modern innovation practices, popularized by bestseller The Lean Startup, that have fueled technology breakthroughs touching every aspect of our lives, Lean Impact turns our attention to a new goal - radically greater social good.

Social change is far more complicated than building…


Book cover of Understanding Collapse: Ancient History and Modern Myths

John F. Haldon Author Of The Empire That Would Not Die: The Paradox of Eastern Roman Survival, 640-740

From my list on premodern societies, climate, and environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has always fascinated me because it offered ways through which I could begin to make sense of the present. History is about how and why things change over time, above all about the causal dynamics underlying how societies, economies, and cultures work and transform. The history of Byzantium is a perfect example, offering many challenges of understanding and interpretation of its own, yet at the same time opening up a whole world of medieval societies and cultures around it, helping to illuminate not just the history of the immediate regions concerned – the eastern Mediterranean and Balkans – but of the world beyond.  

John's book list on premodern societies, climate, and environment

John F. Haldon Why did John love this book?

“Collapse” is a term frequently bandied about in the press and popular as well as academic historical writing. Middleton’s book, well-informed by the palaeoenvironmental, archaeological, and documentary evidence shines a powerful light on some of the pervasive myths about supposed historical collapses, many of which were not at all what the term might suggest. He challenges us to think carefully and critically about what we really know about a past civilisation before we rush into easy judgements. His book made me rethink many of my own assumptions on the subject and undoubtedly influenced my own work.

By Guy D. Middleton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Collapse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Understanding Collapse explores the collapse of ancient civilisations, such as the Roman Empire, the Maya, and Easter Island. In this lively survey, Guy D. Middleton critically examines our ideas about collapse - how we explain it and how we have constructed potentially misleading myths around collapses - showing how and why collapse of societies was a much more complex phenomenon than is often admitted. Rather than positing a single explanatory model of collapse - economic, social, or environmental - Middleton gives full consideration to the overlooked resilience in communities of ancient peoples and the choices that they made. He offers…


Book cover of Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

Megan Rosenbloom Author Of Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

From my list on when life throws you a curveball.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a librarian, writer, and proponent of the death positive movement. I’ve found some people assume that being death positive means a certain callousness. For me the opposite is true: I’m an anxious ball of feelings both for myself and towards others, and the death positive mindset helps me cope better with life’s curveballs. I can say with a degree of certainty that we’ve all been pitched some doozies lately, so I wanted to offer up some books that nourish in times of darkness without turning away in denial.

Megan's book list on when life throws you a curveball

Megan Rosenbloom Why did Megan love this book?

The world is hell, so now what? By now we all know how easy it is to fall into despair. “Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting.” Solnit’s arguments and examples of a galvanizing hope are not naïve. They are nuanced, realistic, and give us something to cling to like a life raft as we scan for dry land.

By Rebecca Solnit,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hope in the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At a time when political, environmental and social gloom can seem overpowering, this remarkable book offers a lucid, affirmative and well-argued case for hope.

This exquisite work traces a history of activism and social change over the past five decades - from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the worldwide marches against the war in Iraq. Hope in the Dark is a paean to optimism in the uncertainty of the twenty-first century. Tracing the footsteps of the last century's thinkers - including Woolf, Gandhi, Borges, Benjamin and Havel - Solnit conjures a timeless vision of cause and effect that…


Book cover of Greece and the Augustan Cultural Revolution

Ian Worthington Author Of Athens After Empire: A History from Alexander the Great to the Emperor Hadrian

From my list on post Classical Athens.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ian Worthington, FSA, FRHistS, is a Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie University, and has written and edited 21 books and over 100 articles on Greek history, oratory, and epigraphy. He also has a Great Courses DVD and CD course titled The Long Shadow of the Ancient Greek World. Away from academic work, he is addicted to reality TV and is an unpaid taxi driver for his two children.

Ian's book list on post Classical Athens

Ian Worthington Why did Ian love this book?

Rome appropriated many aspects of Athenian (and Greek) culture for its political and cultural needs – so much so that the poet Horace spoke of ‘captured Greece capturing the rude conqueror’. This book discusses the ‘Romanization’ of Greece and the impact that Greek culture or Hellenism had on the Romans, and by extension, how the Romans (or at least educated ones) came to view the Greeks. In this cultural interaction, Athens played a key role, as the author shows. This book is an important balance to the ‘usual’ political and military approach to the period, and shows the importance of Athens beyond the terminating Hellenistic era date of 30 BC.

By A.J.S. Spawforth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greece and the Augustan Cultural Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the impact of the Roman cultural revolution under Augustus on the Roman province of Greece. It argues that the transformation of Roman Greece into a classicizing 'museum' was a specific response of the provincial Greek elites to the cultural politics of the Roman imperial monarchy. Against a background of Roman debates about Greek culture and Roman decadence, Augustus promoted the ideal of a Roman debt to a 'classical' Greece rooted in Europe and morally opposed to a stereotyped Asia. In Greece the regime signalled its admiration for Athens, Sparta, Olympia and Plataea as symbols of these past…


Book cover of Climate Optimism: Celebrating Systemic Change Around the World

Carrie Firestone Author Of The First Rule of Climate Club

From my list on non-fiction to inspire community conversations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm co-founder of a grassroots social justice, civic engagement, and service organization called ForwardCT, which I started with my friend and current state representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw with the intention of mobilizing community-centered action. Our work centers on these four pillars: Connect, Inform, Serve, and Lead. Those pillars guide my work as chair of my town’s Clean Energy Commission, as teacher and facilitator of workshops and events, and as an author of books for young people. I'm drawn to the powerful use of storytelling as a tool for starting conversations, stirring up “good trouble,” and inspiring activism. Read a book, approach your library or town to host a community conversation, leave with actionable takeaways, repeat!

Carrie's book list on non-fiction to inspire community conversations

Carrie Firestone Why did Carrie love this book?

Youth climate activist Zahra Biabani has tapped into something many climate activists have yet to learn. Doom doesn’t work. It causes people to retreat into their vices (or under their covers) and, in many cases, it paralyzes entire fledgling movements.

My own work at the community level reflects what Biabani has shared in her well-organized book of carefully-curated hope bombs – hopeful stories inspire positive bursts of brain chemicals, which motivate action. She provides clear examples of climate-centered successes from around the world, and ends with “what you can do.”

This would be a fantastic discussion book for climate clubs of all ages, municipal or non-profit environmental groups, and larger climate-centered conferences.

By Zahra Biabani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Climate Optimism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Guide on Climate Optimism and Environmental Sustainability

Zahra Biabani, a climate activist focused on hope and action, wrote this book to help readers learn why we need to and how we can stay optimistic in the face of the climate crisis. People are doing good things for our planet all over the world.... it's time we highlight it!

Change the way you think about the future. The fate of humanity can be daunting, but we don't need to live in that space. First, we need to change our attitude in order to implement nature based solutions that help mitigate…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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