With his abiding compassion for the rural poor in his native India, Sanjit "Bunker" Roy, 64, has nurtured a grass-roots social entrepreneurship that is redefining the way the world thinks about fighting poverty.
Roy's Barefoot College has trained more than 3 million people for jobs in the modern world, in buildings so rudimentary they have dirt floors and no chairs. This bottom-up approach is designed to make poor students feel comfortable. The college's "barefoot professionals" then return home to use their new skills as solar engineers, teachers, midwives, weavers, architects, doctors and more.
Roy combines humanitarianism, entrepreneurship and education to help people steer their own path out of poverty, fostering dignity and self-determination along the way. His simple formula holds a key to what nations and aid organizations might do to build a more just world.
Mortenson is the best-selling author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools
Correction appended: April 30, 2010. The original version of this article misidentified Roy's age as 50. He is 64.