Saturday, July 16, 2005

Start a Social Enterprise to build an INDIA that you want

NGOs have been playing a phenomenal role in changing India for the better for a long time now. In recent times, businesses are joining hands with NGOs for the same. With MNCs coming in to India in early 90s, they invested in the social development space as it was part of their corporate mandate even in their home countries. New age Indian companies followed suit.

In the last decade or so, a whole new breed of companies have started 'social enterprises. These are spearheaded by social entrepreneurs and yet these are different from social entrepreneurs such as Asoka's Social Entrepreneurs.

These social enterprises and entrepreneurs have started businesses with a difference. These businesses offer solutions/products to the market that is very difficult to capture, has innumberable difficulties to cater to, is very hazy in quantitative terms, with high risk. They raise money just like any other business from one's own pocket, friends, family, VC funds, other companies, banks etc. They pay interest and give returns on investment to their investors. They have income and expenses just like any other company. What they do not have are programme funds and donations like NGOs. They sell their product/solution and make their income.

There are several social enterprises in India today and they are growing. But we need thousands and lakhs of them now. Following are some social enterprises:

Drishtee Dot Com Pvt Ltd
Provides govt and private services to villagers in villages below 5,000 population through ICT for a small fee.

Datamation Consultants Pvt Ltd
Specifically hires handicapped persons, widows, poor persons for their BPO work. Almost their entire staff is only from the above mentioned categories of society.

Provides loans for livelihood generation to poor people in rural areas.

Provides healthcare services in rural India through cellphones and use of ayurvedic medicines.

What makes these businesses different is that:
- they are not NGOs, not dependent on charity money,
- they are not motivated by sheer profit, although it is their top priority as well,
- they evaluate all their decisions against social, ethical, moral standards,
- they measure their success both by ROI and SROI (social return on investment),

What needs to be done is:
- Existing businesses can change themselves into a social enterprise,
- Existing businesses can diversify into social enterprise product/solution,
- Businesses/Individuals/Investors/Banks/VCs can invest in social enterprises,
- Industry associations need to be started to support such social enterprises,
- Centre for Social Entrepreneurship should be setup for research, documentation, promotion, training etc in social enterprise
- Courses in Social Entrepreneurship can be started in MBA and other institutes on social entrepreneurship and social enterprises
- Setup fund to invest in social enterprises

Asian Institute of Management (AIM), Manila, Phillippines recently launched "Creating Space in the Market: Social Enterprise Stories in Asia", a Social Entrepreneurship Book. Edited by Marie Lisa Dacanay with a foreword by Dr. Eduardo Morató Jr., both AIM professors, the book documents 13 cases of significant or exemplary practices in social entrepreneurship in four Asian countries, namely, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.The book aims to provide a comprehensive discussion on the birth and evolution of social entrepreneurship in Asia and how various elements of social entrepreneurship foster the growth of businesses in the marginalized regions of Asia. For inquiries, please contact Rosario Espino at

It is a movement that has been recently started and am sure will take over the world in years to come. It is not pure charity, not pure business, a good middle ground where we can all meet. Join the movement and bring about a change for yourself, your country and the world.


Parimal said...

Social enterprise is not for charity.It ought to aim at improving the quality of life keeping in view especially the wellbeing of the disadvantaged and the deprived providing cost-effective, efficient and eco-friendly products and services, of course with a proper revenue model.Such enterprises are becoming increasingly relevant as the govts are unable to cope with the existing as well as emerging needs of the population and the corporates donot normally see the communities as their clients.Social enterprises to be effective need to work in partnership with community level organisations and self-help groups.

coomerjee said...

social enterprise must be promoted and encouraged by government as well by industry and a chapter on social enterprise must be included from school currucuklam to encourage young indian to start social entrepreneurship

coomerjee said...

i am in search of like minded people from across india to start a social enterprise with a special focus on healthcare and education interested may contact me