Courtesy of my brother-in-law Alex, who lives in the US, I saw this interesting piece in the Atlantic magazine about Bill Clinton and what he is up to these days.
This blog is mainly about small business. Not every small business has access to Bill Clinton, and his incredible personality, address book, and no doubt relatively large personal wealth.
And not every small business wants to travel the world to solve global problems. But this is an inspiring tale anyway. Essentially it’s about how Clinton and one of his long time associates, Ira Magaziner, are taking on global challenges like climate change.
Buoyed up by their success with re-engineering the developing world market for AIDS drugs, Clinton and Magaziner, supported by a host of Harvard MBAs, are attempting to develop markets for a host of technologies and products that are very climate-change-friendly.
The idea is that through buyers clubs, for example, it’s possible to create a market pull for new products and thus stimulate a fall in price, and hence a wider and quicker spreading of these same products.
The author seems to draw a distinction between this and what is described as social entrepreneurship of the Grameen type. I am not sure I can see the distinction. Both use the profit motive and the methods of business to solve social problems. The only difference I can see is the breadth of ambition – Clinton and his colleagues aim to address one large and significant market after another. Is there another difference?
But whatever else, this tale illustrates well the power of leverage: the ability of a small number of people to make big changes, if they get the focus right. And that is one reason why small business is so interesting to me.