Markets of Human Hope

Nov 14, 2006


Dr. Saras Sarasvathy
Associate Professor
University of Virginia

Hope is a powerful aspect of the human experience: it keeps dreams alive when realities render their execution impossible.  For many, be they inner city youth, or poor families in the developing world, hope may be the only resource they have.  But what if hope could be converted into a real commodity, complete with its own financial markets and instruments?   What opportunities would that open up for both entrepreneurs and investors - and how could it contribute to global development? 

As an expert in entrepreneurship, Dr. Saras Sarasvathy has been exploring the feasibility of constructing financial markets for firms in the social sector as well as in countries without formal capital markets.  Her results are intriguing and powerfully challenge preconceived notions regarding conventional reasons for the separation between for-profit and non-for-profit entrepreneurship.  Yet what are the political realities of her research?

To answer that question, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University is excited to host a Distinguished Scholar Forum, featuring Dr. Sarasvathy.  This lunch will provide senior level policymakers to hear directly from Dr. Sarasvathy and engage in a discussion about the political ramifications of her research.  Policymakers will benefit from hearing one of the leading voices in entrepreneurship and be treated to a fascinating discussion on the markets of human hope.  Dr. Sarasvathy will facilitate an interactive discussion, addressing the following questions:

  • What role do financial systems and entrepreneurship play in economic development and social transformation? 
  • What are the constraints on financial markets and on entrepreneurship in the social sector?
  • Can human hope be leveraged into markets to create economic development?  Is this politically feasible?  What would it take to make it politically feasible?