Book Review: The Responsible Entrepreneur


As a founding trustee of 3rd Creek Foundation, I find it important to stay up to date on worldwide trends in our program areas. Here is a short review of my recent read: The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders, and Impact Investors

Author: Carol Sanford (founder and CEO of Responsible Entrepreneur Institute; has consulted for DuPont, Intel, Seventh Generation; taught at MIT, Universities of Michigan and Toronto; blogs for The EconomistStanford Social Innovation Review; wrote The Responsible Business (2011).

Carol Sanford provides a theoretical framework for entrepreneurs looking to incorporate social change into the world of business to an audience of passionate individuals hoping for a different world. Rather than a to-do list, she begins by providing a basis for the entrepreneur to build an individualized roadmap. She proposes 3 levers of change: a hierarchy of domains within which change can occur; roles and the nature of character the entrepreneur must possess to make the desired change corresponding to the hierarchy of domains; and, stories of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

To illustrate her theoretical framework, Sanford presents actual case studies of individuals who have made significant impact in how business is carried out. Many readers of this genre are already familiar with the achievements of Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Oprah, and Larry Page. Also presented are approaches utilized by Jim Sinegal of COSTCO and Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation. New to me, and more relevant to the work we do at 3rd Creek Foundation, were the stories of the use of field research that focused on changing entire systems within a company to include involvement of the community in Vietnam, Massachusetts, and Connecticut; a collaborative venture between Palo Alto, CA, and Ecuador that led to Indigenous Design, a major supplier of organic and fair trade fashion produced in developing countries in Latin America; Annalie Killian's work to build capacity at the community level for Billiton Aluminum in South Africa; and the founding of B Lab, a nonprofit creating systemic change to promote businesses that solve social and environmental problems.

I recommend this book to the individual interested in carrying out an enterprise with a view to include the community that its business impacts.


Pam Straley is a founder and board member of 3rd Creek Foundation. She is an M.S., R.N., and Family Nurse Practitioner with a diverse background in nursing and health care administration. Her international career took off in 1974, when she joined the Peace Corps in Nicaragua as a community health volunteer. Recognizing her passion for global health, Pam continued to work with medical centers in Costa Rica and Indonesia. She has also consulted for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as its HIV/AIDS Prevention Project Manager in Zambia, as well as for the American Public Health Association, and Peace Corps. Most recently Pam served as Manager of a clinic in Incline Village serving low income, uninsured residents of Northern Nevada. Pamela earned her B.S.N. at California State Long Beach (1970), and M.S.N./F.N.P at the University of California, San Francisco (1985). She has published a health education manual and guide to general health services for foreigners in Indonesia.

Gwen StraleyComment