Business Administration

Want to Found a Company That Changes the World? Read These 5 Books First.

Want to Found a Company That Changes the World? Read These 5 Books First.
Interested in joining the ranks of social entrepreneurs but not sure where to start? Image from Unsplash
Priyanka Jaisinghani profile
Priyanka Jaisinghani August 29, 2019

What do the founders of Patagonia, Toms, and KIND have in common?

MBA/Business Programs You Should Consider

Article continues here

This website may earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on a product link in this article

Social entrepreneurs establish businesses intending to realize solutions for social, cultural, and environmental issues. Living examples include Shiza Shahid, the Founder, and CEO of the Malala Fund, and Professor Muhammad Yunus, creator of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Whether through apparel, solar energy, or even ice cream, these professionals take on an approach to business that’s not only concerned with profit but driving change and transforming society.

Interested in joining the ranks of social entrepreneurs but not sure where to start? We’ve assembled a collection of books from mission-driven innovators and global industry experts to help you start building on your social enterprise expertise. Use them to reimagine an idea, view a sector from a new angle, and introduce yourself to leaders in a field.

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard pioneered the social entrepreneurship space with his 1970s inception of
Patagonia, an outdoor gear and clothing company on a mission to produce high-quality products and do minimal environmental harm. Over the years, Patagonia has donated millions of dollars to domestic and international environmental groups that are committed to protecting air, land, and water, and finding solutions to the climate crisis.

In his book, Chouinard shares stories of finding fame early on as a successful mountain climber and outlines how his expeditions around the world inspired Patagonia’s innovative products. Later, he explores his unconventional approach to running a company, describing how environmental responsibility was crucial to his business model from the very beginning.

This book is more than a story of one man’s grand adventure in business. It’s proof that with persistence and bravery, a company can do immense good while becoming one of the most respected and financially successful brands on earth.

Along his journey, Chouinard shares philosophies on topics like marketing, management, product distribution, and design that helped shape Patagonia’s pathway to becoming a socially responsible empire. As a reader, these case studies will allow you to pick up on industry wins.


“Should I Get A MBA?”

University and Program Name Learn More

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

Blake Mycoskie is the Founder of
Toms Shoes and the leader of the “one for one” movement. Meaning that for every pair of shoes bought from Toms, the company donates a pair of shoes to children in need. Since its origin, the company has grown into a business that transcends across a range of products and industries.

Start Something That Matters highlights an idea’s humble beginnings and a man’s devotion to the causes that inspire him. When Mycoskie started Toms Shoes, he had no experience in footwear or apparel, and yet his brand became one of the fastest-growing shoe companies in the world.

Mycoskie demystifies his success by taking readers on the brand’s journey to becoming a leading business while sharing critical ideas for how readers can transform their own lives. By framing his lessons through personal perspective and first-hand experiences, he empowers readers to use their passions to create positive change.

Do the KIND Thing by Daniel Lubetzky

Daniel Lubetzsky is the Founder and CEO of
KIND Snacks whose mission is to bring more kindness to the world. Since the company’s 2004 beginnings, KIND has baked that mission into its a snack bar movement by committing millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours to spreading kindness and fighting hunger.

In his memoir, Lubetzsky details powerful lessons for social entrepreneurs by weaving in the principles that shaped the KIND business model. He shares stories of his father, a Holocaust survivor, and how used his them as inspiration to embed the courageous kindness of strangers into the DNA of his company.

Do the KIND Thing doesn’t shy away from the struggles and setbacks Lubetzsky faced while building a “not-only-for-profit” business, either. Instead, its insights and unfiltered experiences provide readers with the tools to take greater risks and think boundlessly.

B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good by Ryan Honeyman and Dr. Tiffany Jana

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy, a consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and improve businesses that benefit their customers, employees, suppliers, and the environment. His handbook serves as a practical and digestible guide to the ins and outs of building a better business.

Honeymoon collaborated with diversity and inclusion expert Dr. Tiffany Jana to leverage insights from industry icons like Ben & Jerry’s and well-known newcomers like Warby Parker and Etsy. The result is a roadmap for any company looking to improve their social, cultural, environmental performance while maintaining long term financial sustainability.

These insights draw on tips, interviews, and best practices from over 100 B Corporations to help entrepreneurs join in this growing community. Honeymoon stresses that when it comes it business, there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between creating profits and positive social change.

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

Jacqueline Novogratz is the Founder and CEO of
Acumen, a nonprofit global venture capital fund on a mission to tackle global poverty. In 2015, Acumen was named one of the world’s top ten
most innovative not-for-profit companies.

Novogratz’s work began in the late 1980s when she quit her job on Wall Street to co-found Rwanda’s first microfinance institution, Duterimbere. The experience inspired her to write her bestselling memoir.

Novogratz’s story begins at home in Virginia when she’s given a blue sweater. This gift quickly becomes Jacqueline’s most prized possession until she outgrows it and donates it to Goodwill. Eleven years later, in Africa, she spots a young boy wearing the same sweater. Her name is still on the tag inside. Novogratz uses this to dive into the world of global poverty, international aid, and philanthropy as she explores the often unseen shortcomings and pitfalls of charity.

By advocating for a new paradigm called “patient capital,” she teaches readers how to grant dignity to the poor and rethink their relationship with the world.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

Questions or feedback? Email

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


You May Also Like To Read

Categorized as: Business AdministrationManagement & LeadershipBusiness & Management