Jonathan_Lewis Finding Impact Podcast

FIP 021: A Fireside Chat with Jonathan Lewis

Jonathan is a social entrepreneur and social justice advocate, as can be seen from his illustrious career in a life of purpose. He’s started a fund to invest in micro-finance funds, he setup one of the leading social sector conferences – Opportunity Collaboration, he’s an impact investor, co-founder of a social enterprise in Nairobi called Copia Global and now, a published author. His new book, The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur is out now – check out the links below. Jonathan has so much to share, it’s difficult to know where to start. He is often called upon by others to help people get through tough times of doubt and low points in their social impact journeys. He said he recommends people start by reconfirming their values – when you choose not to quit, that’s when you become a social entrepreneur.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Thoughts on how to pick yourself from hard times when we get beaten down by the challenges confronting us.
  • Having a sense of urgency versus taking the long view, because change takes time.
  • How we define social entrepreneurship and how that term could be limiting, and in fact, the term should be extended to encompass any social sector worker who is fighting against injustice anywhere.
  • The best conference advice you can get ever ?
  • Civic entrepreneurship, recognising that government is scale, and it should be a privilege to work at scale for government – something that perhaps is missing from sector rhetoric.
  • Advice to “go all in” for those starting out in their social enterprise careers, and also to get some basic skills under your belt – which will stand you in good stead to make the most impact in your careers.
  • The importance of having fun and enjoying ourselves, as is brings so much benefits to our lives, personally and ultimately in the pursuit of our goals.
  • The importance of focus, something that Jonathan learned (again) recently when one of his social enterprises failed and he wasn’t tuned in to the challenges he was facing.
  • We do a little dissection on Jonathan’s Cafe Impact idea, on why it failed and some things to learn from it – most of which boils down to not listening enough.
  • Knowing what you don’t know is one of the best ways to succeed.
  • We discuss the lack of racial diversity in social entrepreneurship.
  • We talk about the democratic infamy of the current president of the United States and the risk it poses to the progress made in social justice over recent years – and what we should all be doing about it.


  • “Many of the folks in our space are feeling very bruised. And I think there’s a moment when you decide not to quit and when you make that decision, that’s when you become a social entrepreneur.”
  • “It’s tough work because we upset the status quo – we make enemies”
  • “The day to day of any social enterprise uses the same skill sets as any business entrepreneur. The big difference is whose side you’re on. In social entrepreneurship, you’re on the side of the under dog.”
  • “I’m little in comparison to the parents of nelson Mandela who raised one awesome dude, who changed a nation and the world.”
  • “There is no idea I’ve had, that looks anything like the original idea when it’s done”
  • “There’s a difference between identifying a real need for something and identifying market demand.”
  • “The keyword in social entrepreneurship is not entrepreneurship. It’s social. This is a collaborative, team game.”
  • “If we talk about scaling up our social justice solutions, scale starts with having a United States government with some measure of concern for the global issues that we all care about.”
  • “Social entrepreneurs need to become civic entrepreneurs and get politically active.”
  • “Anger is power!”
  • “The people and the causes you care about are effected by government institutions.. so you don’t get a pass.”
  • “I’m happy to be wrong. I’m not happy to not keep moving”


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