Social entrepreneurship is espousing a serious social issue and solving it with an innovative solution. Social entrepreneurs are people who are fervent and determined about their purpose and possess a very high level of motivation. They are visionaries who aspire to bring in positive change to adverse social realities.
Social entrepreneurs are known to be great recruiters who influence people with their ideas and make them identify a need for change. Mobilizing others for working together to bring in change is the key trait of a social entrepreneur.
Social entrepreneurs function with the objective of changing the face of the society. They operate in field like health, sanitation, education or others which demand development. There are people even who work on bringing about change in the modern innovations because their impact has been detrimental to human life. Some social entrepreneurs also work for improving systems, achieving new solutions and establishing fair practices.
Some of the very famous Indians who inspire to take up social entrepreneurship:
Pathak is an Indian sociologist. He is the founder of Sulabh International.
Muruganantham is a Tamil Nadu based social entrepreneur. He invented of a low-cost sanitary pad vending machine. He is also known for innovating grassroots mechanisms for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India.
She is an accomplished social entrepreneur and the founder of several international NGOs. Her recent ventures comprise Aflatoun, Childline India Foundation and Child Helpline International.
Founder of Frontier Markets organisation, Shah aims at bringing advance new age technologies at cheaper prices to rural India.
Founder of SELCO, Hande aspires to make renewable resources the prime energy source in rural India. He has installed 120,000 systems in Karnataka.
Ghosh aims at restoring rural craft of India. She bring together art and craft products from skilled village artisans and helps them live a better life.
Shastry filed a PIL which eventually became a judgement persuading politicians to confess to their crimes. His dedicated labours resulted in the formation of ADR (Associations for Democratic Reform) responsible for scrutinising the elections every 5 years.
Sudarshan is the founder of Karuna Trust, which is into healthcare services.
Hazari is a peace negotiator and businesswoman. She was honored by President Bill Clinton with $1,000,000, for her contributions in solving global water crisis through her initiative named, m.Paani.
Mistry works in the field of education. He helps slum children get admitted to costly private schools, thus helping in reducing illiteracy from the grass root level and creating better learning impacts amongst the underprivileged.
Aditya Baran Mallick
Mallick is the founder of The Institution for Quality Skill Training, an initiative that helps youth from poor backgrounds have better livelihood through skilled based training. He has successfully trained and placed about 10,000 youth so far.
Chetna Vijay Sinha
Sinha is the founder of Mann Deshi Manila Sahakari Bank, a dedicated bank that aims to provide financial support to rural women.
Stoodnt.com got in touch with Biplab Das, a corporate turned social entrepreneur, to know about his journey and also to delve deeper into social entrepreneurship as a career option.
Das and his IIM batchmate, Saurabh Kumar from California, left their respective white collar jobs and initially started with the idea of working in early education in remote India and launched Kishalay Foundation. Later Das’s Accenture colleague, Soumitra Dandapat and old friend Jhilam Nandi, joined to form the core team. Now team has Arnab Adhikari, Asst. Prof, IIM Ranchi, who is also on advisory board.
Das believes there is common perception that rural students are good in studies. Been spent his early periods in rural area, Biplab Das has personally experienced the difficulties a rural student faces. He has realized it is quality early education which makes all the difference. It is the right pedagogy and techniques with right learning environment that creates lasting impact in rural children.
An alumnus of BE, Electrical – 1993, Jadavpur University and PGDM, IIM Bangalore 1999, Das has worked in electrical manufacturing for some years, before his PGDM. After completing his PGDM he joined IT services and has worked with IT giants like Mahindra Satyam from 2005 to 2010. He joined Accenture 2011 only to quit in 2017 and take social development, full time.
“We work with Government Primary Schools in most remote rural villages (Educationally Backward Blocks-EBBs) in India to improve learning outcome mainly through three types of intervention programs such as Sports Intervention Programs, Edutoys Intervention Programs, IT Intervention Programs,” he explained.
Addressing social problems
According to Das social entrepreneurship is an initiative (both for profit or non-profit) to address a social problem. When asked how he sees the social entrepreneurship scene in India, Das appeared optimistic – “Extremely bright; India is facing huge challenges in many areas like education, health and many others. It will gain more momentum from here, even leading institutes like IIM Bangalore has set up an incubation centre for social entrepreneurs, other IIMs are following,” he enthused.
However, he maintained that funding to scale up remains the major challenge in the country’s social entrepreneurship sector. “CSR partnerships are not easy to get into. More funds should be available for the priority areas. Impact funding is just evolving,” he informed. Das was very articulate while talking about about the skills required for building a career in social entrepreneurship. “Empathy, Empathy and Empathy,” he declared.
Social entrepreneurship as a career option for millennials
Das firmly asserted that millennials must take up social entrepreneurship as their career and in doing so focus should be on understanding a problem and trying to solve it. “Career will follow,” he assured.
He also feels that formal degrees are not must-required criteria for getting into social entrepreneurship. He cited the instances of Arunachalam Muruganantham (PADMAN) who does not have any formal education. “Passion and problem solving ability is what matters,” he reiterated.
Social entrepreneurship in achieving development goals
Das feels the Indian government has its own set of challenges, in spite of having good intentions. “Let’s say primary education, if it could have been solved by Govt. then it would have been solved by now. But that is not the case. Govt. has to partner with right social enterprises to solve key issues and eventually reach inclusive education. This is true in all sectors of developments. Participation from all quarters including social entrepreneurs is critical for attaining development goals of the country,” he stated.
Technology influence in social entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurs make use of innovative approaches to social problems like poverty, lack of access to healthcare – especially in the rural and remote regions, problems in addressing the gap between employment and unemployed youth, and issues like lack of access to funds for social entrepreneurs. In these cases, technology now plays a major role. This is due to the fact that technology is not only inherently innovative but increasingly, it has emerged as a cost effective option in solving critical social issues.
In many countries, farmers need real-time information on weather forecasts and on sowing schedules in order to plan their harvest. Additionally, it is very important for fishermen in coastal areas to know about approaching storms. Mobile based apps are now doing this job with great ease and efficiency. Besides, IT enabled kiosks in rural areas are enabling people get trained in valuable IT skills which enhances their employability quotient. Likewise, mobile apps are helping microcredit institutions and the people they finance communicate with each other leading to enhanced credit usage as well as repayment.
Das also feels that the tech landscape is really encouraging. “You now have crowd funding platforms, tech platforms for the corporate to connect to right social partners,” he concluded.