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Responsible Reading

If you are taking social responsibility seriously, what should you be reading?

By London Business School . 15 January 2013

If you are taking social responsibility seriously, what should you be reading?


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1. The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits


Author: CK Prahalad

Publisher: Prentice Hall, 2006

Prahalad turns marketing on its head. The world's billions of poor people may not seem an obvious market to target. Collectively, though they have huge unfulfilled purchasing potential. As Prahalad writes: “The very poor represent resilient entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers.” How do you reach them though? With a radical new approach that requires collaboration, consumer engagement, and the co-creation of value.”


2. Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference


Author: Antony Bugg-Levine and Jed Emerson

Publisher: Jossey- Bass, 2011

Why shouldn't investment be a force for good? Social enterprise and making money are not mutually exclusive, far from it. Yet investors have been wary of this sector because of uncertainties around the metrics involved, and what constitutes value. Impact investing ties together existing investment related activities into a coherent strategy for delivering blended value, while highlighting challenges and successes. The entrepreneur gets scale. Society secures solutions. The investor makes a return. Everyone wins.


3. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas


Author: David Bornstein

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2007

Examining social enterprise through the lives of the entrepreneurs. With its many definitions, social enterprise is a source of confusion to some. There's no misunderstanding, though, about the difference made by the individuals featured in Bornstein's book; revealed through his analysis of their strategies, techniques, work and achievements. Nobel Peace Prize winning landmine campaigner, schools in slums education entrepreneur, health policy innovator, all are included. Inspiring tales told about the tackling of social ills, from resource shortages to child prostitution.


4. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What can be Done About It


Author: Paul Collier

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2008

Global poverty is falling. But a billion people remain resolutely rooted to the bottom of the pile. Surviving on less than $1 a day, the world’s poorest people are cut adrift, forgotten. Trapped by conflict and corruption. Living in landlocked states with poor neighbours. Failed by their nation states, and international aid programmes. What will succeed in liberating these people from their impoverished existence? How can aid, trade, governance and security, be blended together to make the most of the opportunities that countries have. Collier has a plan.


5. Poor Economics: Barefoot Hedge-fund Managers, DIY Doctors and the Surprising Truth about Life on Less Than $1 a Day


Author: Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Publisher: Penguin, 2012

Myth debunkers Banerjee and Duflo cast life below the breadline in a new light, and reveal some telling poverty paradoxes. Take the experience from 15 years’ working with the poor across five continents. Add the scientific rigour derived from hundreds of randomised control trials, conducted via the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. The result: a new take on the economics of the less well-off. Some scientifically evidenced lessons for fighting social inequity.


6. Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail


Author: Paul Polak

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler 2009

Top down conventional strategies have failed to make much of a dent in poverty eradication. Common approaches, whether donations, national economic growth, or the intervention of big business, promise much but deliver little. Distilling the wisdom garnered from a quarter of a century's conversations with subsistence farmers in their hundreds, other solutions emerge. Polak details the grassroots initiatives that use low-cost tools to help rural farmers exploit market opportunities.


7. The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier


Author: John Elkington

Publisher: Routledge, 2012

The man who gave us the triple bottom line, now launches zeronauts into the world. Meet the new breed of innovator, set to tackle some of the world's toughest challenges, and break the sustainability barrier into the bargain. Zeronautics, the power of 0, defeating the five Ps — population growth, pandemics, poverty, pollution, and proliferation — the Zeronaut Roll of Honour, five stages on a Pathway to Zero. Elkington welcomes you to the Detox Decade.


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


Author: Muhammad Yunus

Publisher: Public Affairs, 2010

Capitalism, but not as we know it. If you thought the days of free market enterprise were numbered, think again. Laissez faire may be a let-down but Muhammad Yunus wants us to fashion a new kind of capitalism. The Nobel laureate and microfinance pioneer, believes social business is the best path forward. Entrepreneurs + profits + social goals = sustainable enterprises, and a better society. Yunus shows the way.


9. Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World


Author: Beverly Schwartz

Publisher: Jossey Bass, 2012

Schwartz is vice president at Ashoka, the renowned organisation that supports a network of global social entrepreneurs. In Rippling she recounts some compelling stories of people making difference in the world, using smart ideas to solve social and environmental challenges. Anyone, anywhere, can be an effective change-maker. With the help of five guiding principles, drawing on her experience at Ashoka, Schwartz explains how.


10.  Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs: Enhancing the Performance of Your Enterprising Nonprofit


Author: J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson and Peter Economy

Publisher: Wiley, 2002

Reading about the lives of social entrepreneurs is one thing, doing it yourself is another matter entirely. What you need is a social enterprise 101, a toolkit for the uninitiated. Guidance, practical examples, step-by-step instructions, concepts, frameworks, all explained in detail. Take these, add enthusiasm, application, creativity, and entrepreneurial endeavour.

Apply to your ideas and enterprise. Next stop, social entrepreneur.

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