Interview - David Batstone
Where does your drive to contribute to the world come from?
For some reason it is easier for religious people to talk about “a calling.” A sense that you were put into the world to pursue a particular path.
From the time I was in my teenage years, I knew that I had to dedicate myself to bringing justice to the world, to stand with those who were exploited or mired in poverty.
My life has taken a circuitous path that traverses venture capital, human rights, and university teaching, but at each stage I never lost sight of my ultimate purpose.
What is wonderful about this moment in my life, I can now look back and be grateful for the broad array of skills in economy and culture my experiences gave me.
I am better equipped today to design strategic solutions to fight injustice and extreme poverty than at any other moment in my life, in part because I did not rigidly follow one path.
I let passion and curiosity guide me, and that still drives my activities to this day.
What are you most hopeful about right now?
I am very hopeful about the entrepreneurial energy that is popping up all over the world, especially among young people.
No matter where I go I find an expectation that our future is not consigned to follow in a linear fashion from the past; rather, the present offers us an opportunity to refashion the future.
Over the next decade I expect most of the sectors of society to be reinvented, from health care to finance to retail to entertainment media.
Entrepreneurs are putting forward pilots that they hope scale into a better plan. That gives me tremendous hope.
What is the most important issue that is not being talked about as much as it should be?
We spend a great deal of time talking about replacing labor and mechanised tasks, but not near enough time imagining what productivity and purpose will mean to humanity in a brave new world.
What's the best piece of feedback you've ever been given?
Above all live with integrity. Not everyone has to like you; it’s more important that most everyone respects you.
Three words that describe you?
Rebellious Pragmatic Idealist
What are you most proud of?
When I first started Not For Sale, our first project was to build a village for “slum dog millionaire” kids in Northern Thailand.
They were nearly all from ethnic tribal groups, without citizenship (“stateless”), and thrown into begging rings and prostitution.
I am thrilled to see those kids graduate from universities and trade schools today, with the power to choose their own destinies, which to me is the ultimate expression of freedom.
Though Not For Sale today works in eight countries around the world and in a myriad of projects, I forever more will be proud of that first stake in the ground.
Who are your heroes?
William Wilberforce, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi
What would you like to be remembered for?
My ideal epitaph: “Everyone whom David met left with an inspiration to live leaning toward their best self”
“Just Business" is in the business of creating profit and social change by partnering with investors, executives, and entrepreneurs to design a creative economy that works for everyone. Founded in 2006 by David Batstone, we invest in and incubate profitable and forward-thinking ventures dedicated to positively impacting the world. We believe that in the 21st Century, market-rate returns, coupled with supply chain dignity, environmental responsibility, job creation and enfranchisement of marginalized communities, is just business."