LESSON 39Leverage Public/Private Support for Social Entrepreneurship

We met Ron Bruder in Lesson 11 when I shared the story of his remarkable entrepreneurial and philanthropic career. Ron’s daughter worked near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It wasn’t until the end of that nightmarish day that Ron got word that she was safe. Before the relief had worn off, he decided to devote his entrepreneurial talent—and $10 million of his own money—to creating an organization that would become Education for Employment, or EFE (www.efe.org), which could “foster hope, stability, and prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa” and just maybe prevent the next 9/11, or something even worse.

But how? Ron spent much of the next four years traveling, searching for an answer. With the help of some of the region’s top thinkers and leaders, he identified youth unemployment as the biggest problem. (The region has the highest unemployment rate in the world.) So Ron, a Jew from Brooklyn who had made a fortune building retail malls and cleaning up and developing brownfields, set out to change the economies of the Middle East and North Africa. Job training would be the key.

“Initially, I went to Washington,” he recalls. “People laughed at me.”1 But it wasn’t the first time that experts had waved off one of Ron’s innovative ideas. Patiently and strategically, he began to piece together relationships with business and social leaders from Morocco to Yemen. He cajoled, networked, and occasionally ...

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