Social Entrepreneurship with Devin Thorpe

SFGC: Where are you from? Where have you lived? Where is your favorite place that you have visited?

Devin: It has been my privilege to travel around the world. I’ve lived on both coasts of the U.S. and now live near where I was born in Utah, in the western U.S. I’ve lived in China and Argentina. I’ve traveled in Europe, Africa and extensively in Asia. The Taj Mahal is the most impressive structure I’ve seen and the Iguacu Falls on the Argentina-Brazil border are the most impressive natural feature I’ve seen. I find people are wonderful everywhere I’ve been.

SFGC: What was it that originally inspired you to become such an advocate for social entrepreneurship, impact investing, CSR, and, in general, making the world a better place? Was this something that developed over time, or are you able to pinpoint and credit it to a specific person or circumstance?

Devin: The failure of the Teton Dam in Southern Idaho inspired my interest in social good. My father took me to visit Rexburg where 80 percent of the structures had been damaged or destroyed by the flood. I spent a single day there with a large group of people and had the sense, despite not really having done much, that I’d done some good. I pledged then that I would never miss an opportunity to serve. Of course, I did miss many such opportunities, but when I got fired from the best job I’d ever had five years ago, I refocused my career on championing social good.

SFGC: You often mention that your mission is to solve the world’s biggest problems before 2045. What is the significance of that year and why have you chosen it?

Devin: That year is 30 years from now. Looking at the progress of the last 30 years, I’m convinced there is much we can do over the net thirty. I’m especially impressed with the Rotary-led effort to eradicate polio. Taking almost exactly 30 years, the effort has resulted in a 99.9 percent reduction in polio cases and is likely to result in complete eradication within the next 12 months. Following the polio eradication model, we can solve many of the world’s biggest problems.

SFGC: Through our venture, we are aiming to empower today’s youth to become the next generation of changemakers. What is it about harnessing the entrepreneurial desire in young students that you find so intriguing?

Devin: Entrepreneurship drives tremendous change in the world, almost all of it positive. Social entrepreneurship virtually guarantees that innovation will be beneficial to society. As I look at what social entrepreneurs are doing to make the world a better place today, it gives me great hope for the future. Young people have always been our best prospect for a bright future!

SFGC: Global Citizen Crush!?

Devin: The person who I most admire is Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist and author. While I can’t hope to repeat his career or match his skills, he inspires me to be the best I can be and to reach farther and work harder. Kristof’s books Half the Sky and A Path Appears are both powerful, objective analyses of global efforts to solve big problems, especially those impacting the poor. Often, those who are most disadvantaged are women and girls. He’s found a large audience and moves people to action. I aspire to do the same.