Jonathan Lewis: The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview


Jonathan C. Lewis is a life-long social justice activist and accomplished social entrepreneur and the founder of MCE Social Capital, an innovative social venture that leverages $110 million of private capital to finance tiny business loans to deeply impoverished people, mostly women, in 33 countries in the developing world.  He is also founder and president of Opportunity Collaboration, an annual strategic business retreat for 450 senior level anti-poverty leaders from around the globe.  Additionally, Jonathan is the co-founder of Copia Global, an Amazon-like consumer catalog serving the base of the economic pyramid in Kenya.  He is a Trustee of the Swift Foundation and serves as a general partner of Dev Equity, a social impact investment fund in Latin America.  Jonathan has taught social entrepreneurship at New York University,UC Berkeley, and has lectured at universities around the world. He is a recipient of the Social Venture Network Innovation Award. During his eclectic career, Jonathan has served as the founder and CEO of a global business knowledge company in the healthcare sector, Chief Budget Adviser to the President of the California State Senate (who, in public debate in the Senate, said to his colleagues, "if the Senate has a resident genius, it's Jonathan Lewis"), he’d the founder and CEO of an urban real estate development company, and the owner of a contemporary art gallery.  He loves to collect art made by made with recycled materials.

 

Some highlights from my interview with Jonathan include:

  • What it means to listen actively

  • Choosing the “side” of remedying injustice in a context of clear and present persecution

  • The value of deep emotional connection with those with shared values in our field

  • Holding people to account in their obligation to be self-informed about key issues

  • A highlight reel of Jonathan’s enterprises and his new book

  • The power of focusing on doing one thing well at a time

  • Santana’s music as the passionately engaging spirit of the movement for social justice

  • Responsiveness and honoring the integrity of individual relationships

  • Transforming anger and righteous indignation into a process of “weaponizing” yourself

 

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Andrew Baskin is Executive Producer and Fellow at LIFT Economy, specializing in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.