Getting Beyond Better | Roger L. Martin

Summary of: Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works
By: Roger L. Martin


In ‘Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works,’ authors Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg explore the powerful potential of social entrepreneurs to enact systemic change, ultimately benefitting society. Drawing examples from historical figures such as Andrew Carnegie to contemporary initiatives like Riders for Health and the One Acre Fund, the book showcases the transformative impact of social entrepreneurship. As you journey through this summary, you will gain insight into the hallmarks of successful social entrepreneurs and the essential elements that drive their positive change. Delve deeper into the three tensions they navigate and witness the power of scalable solutions that challenge conventional assumptions and create winning value equations.

The Power of Social Entrepreneurship

In their book, Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg examine the role of social entrepreneurship in addressing societal problems. Social entrepreneurs take on systems that perpetuate oppression and marginalized groups. The authors provide insights and strategies for effective social entrepreneurship, demonstrating how it can bring about positive change in society.

The Power of Social Entrepreneurship

Social service providers provide temporary relief, whereas social entrepreneurs bring systemic change. Andrew Carnegie, a social entrepreneur, made knowledge widely accessible by establishing free public libraries throughout the United States, altering the status quo that made knowledge available only to the wealthy. Like Carnegie, social entrepreneurs create scalable solutions to bring about change and navigate three tensions: abhorrence and appreciation, expertise and apprenticeship, experimentation and commitment. By understanding the situation, developing a vision for a better future, formulating a model solution, and scaling it to serve more people, social entrepreneurs bring about positive and lasting change to society.

Revolutionizing Healthcare with Motorcycles

Andrea and Barry Coleman, motorcycle racers, witnessed the dire situation of sub-Saharan Africa’s healthcare system where thousands were dying due to the lack of transportation. They founded Riders for Health, which provided motorcycle training and equipment to solve the transportation problem. The organization forged partnerships with health ministries for maintenance and training. They ensured clear communication with relevant actors, donors, and government agencies, allowing their vision to be flexible enough to adapt to fluid circumstances on the ground. The Colemans’ vision and ingenuity revolutionized the healthcare system by providing accessible and efficient transportation, saving countless lives.

Fighting Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon

In Brazil’s Amazon basin, deforestation had become a rampant issue affecting the lumber and agricultural industries, Indigenous people, and the government. Adalberto Verissimo established Imazon to bring together these stakeholders to tackle the issue. By challenging assumptions and designing a strategy that transformed the value equation, successful social entrepreneurship was built. Jose Lula da Silva’s government used newly available data to identify the worst affected areas and cut off the credit of businesses contributing to deforestation. As a result, enforcement agencies scrutinized the supply chain, and international retailers like Walmart and Carrefour stopped buying merchandise from deforested areas, leading to a significant decline in deforestation.

Fighting for Change

Indian activists Kailash Satyarthi and Madhav Chavan dedicated their lives to important causes that have impacted their country. Satyarthi’s creation of a certification process for products without child labor helped to reduce child labor rates in South Asia’s rug industry by 75%. Chavan showed that school dropouts can learn to read and perform arithmetic with just a few hours of instruction daily, and he scaled his program from a local initiative to a national movement. Thanks to these two activists, India has made progress in fighting child labor and improving education.

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