Book Launch and Party at the Commonwealth Club Tuesday, 5:15 p.m. December 11, 2012

(San Francisco, CA.) —  Today, "social entrepreneurship" describes a host of new initiatives, and often refers to approaches that are breaking from traditional philanthropic and charitable organizational behavior.  A social entrepreneur is an individual who recognizes a social problem and utilizes business principles in a venture to bring about social change and create social capital, rather than merely profit.  Social entrepreneurship has become somewhat of a catch-all phrase. Coined by Bill Drayton in the early 1980s, it originally referred to someone with the passion of an entrepreneur tackling a social challenge, such as Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus.  Now the term is used to convey many types of structures that incorporate business mechanisms including profit making enterprises into the continuum of efforts aimed at social change.

What types of change have these social entrepreneurial efforts brought to the world of civil society and philanthropy? What works in today's environment? And what barriers are these new efforts breaking down as they endeavor to make the world a better place?  In a year-long series at The Commonwealth Club, Editor Ruth Shapiro brought together leading entrepreneurs, funders, investors, thinkers, and champions in the field to answer these questions from their first-person perspectives.  These programs were edited to comprise the content of The Real Problem Solvers, an ideal accessible and personal introduction to social entrepreneurship.

“Ruth put together a truly amazing series featuring many of the leading lights in the important emerging field of social entrepreneurship,” said The Club CEO and President Dr. Gloria C. Duffy. “She then went on to do something unprecedented in Commonwealth Club history, turning a Club series into a stand-alone volume published by the prestigious Stanford University Press.” 

"Social entrepreneurship has shaken up the worlds of philanthropy and non-profit management," said Shapiro, “By bringing business rigor and accountability to bear on societal issues, new excitement, energy and experimentation is taking place.  It has been a great privilege to partner with the Commonwealth Club to showcase extraordinary leaders tackling difficult but critical challenges.” 

A special program and reception will be held Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at The Club offices at 595 Market Street, 2nd floor, San Francisco, to launch the book and to celebrate Dr. Shapiro and the social entrepreneurs who contributed to her book.  Investor and funder Matt Bannick of the Omidyar Network, academic Kriss Deiglmeier of Stanford University, and entrepreneur Premal Shah of Kiva will also be on hand to share their perspectives.  There will be a 5:15 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. program with brief comments by panelists, and a 6:30 p.m. reception with light hors d’ouevres, book sales and signing.  The event is free for members, $20 for nonmembers, and $7 for students.  Dr. Shapiro has generously elected to give all proceeds from the book to The Commonwealth Club.                    


Dr. Ruth Shapiro has built several successful businesses around social missions.  Her latest and largest achievement was to create and run the Asia Business Council, a Hong Kong based membership organization of top CEO’s in Asia, committed to sustainable economic development. As its founder, Dr. Shapiro raised the startup capital from private foundations and individuals, recruited key chief executives to develop the initiative, and built the Council into the organization it is today.  Through this work, Dr. Shapiro gained expertise on issues such as corporate social responsibility, scenario planning, education, training and innovation, corporate governance, energy efficiency, trade policy, and regional economic growth. 


Prior to creating the Asia Business Council, Dr. Shapiro worked in the field of international development.  In this capacity, she held various management positions and established new program areas at the Academy for Educational Development, and the Harvard Institute of International Development and Global Outlook.   Dr. Shapiro, a Mill Valley resident, holds a doctorate from Stanford University and Masters Degrees from Harvard University and George Washington University.  She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan.  

Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s premier public affairs forum, with more than 16,000 members. Based in San Francisco and San Jose, the Club hosts more than 450 speeches, debates and discussions each year on issues of regional, national and international significance. At least half a million people hear The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 230 stations across the country. The Club also podcasts its programs, with more than 1 million of its podcasts downloaded every year. The Club’s programs are televised on Comcast Premium Digital Cable, Fora.TV and ABC7, and The Club hosts live interactive broadcasts of select programs online. For more information, visit

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