Entrepreneurship in India #6: Be passionate


This is a guest post by Alban Leveau-Vallier of Socialter.The aim of Socialter is to spread the good ideas using social media. As they travel, they spot interesting social entrepreneurs and then they write about them on the blog, make video about them, and spread their word and their good ideas through facebook and twitter. They also offer to advise them on the use of social media.An interview of Joe Madiath, Gram Vikas.

Joe Madiath is the founder of Gram Vikas. An Orissa based NGO that employs 522 people. Gram Vikas helped more than 300,000 people from the villages through an integrated action ranging from water and sanitation to health and education. Joe Madiath's work has been awarded by many organizations, including Ashoka, the Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Foundation and the World Bank.

You are about to leave your baby, Gram Vikas, to someone else. What would you advice to your successor?

I have no particular advice. He should take possession of it and make his own baybe, as I did.

What is the main quality of an entrepreneur?

I would say faith. You must believe in what you do. As Paulo Coelho says in The Alchemist : "If you believe in something, if you really want something, the entire universe will conspire to make it happen."

But faith alone is not enough, it can be passive. It must be faith with passion. I am passionate about water and sanitation, I am passionate about biogas. An entrepreneur must be passionate.

What has been your main challenge?

Water and sanitation. It has been and it is still the main challenge. "India will reach the pinnacle of civilization when everyone has a toilet". And I should add to this quotation, "when everyone has a 24h water supply". We should take no other direction.

What did you bring to social entrepreneurship?

What I brought to social entrepreneurship? Full inclusion. 100%. Nobody is left behind. All households of a habitation must be involved in the development process and must benefit equitably. Participation of all households is non-negotiable.

Along with full inclusion is tackling all the problems. Our main focus is water and sanitation, but it has to do with education, with health... Everything goes together.

What would you change if you had to start again from the beginning?

I would not have got married. I would not have made children. If you marry and make children, there are many risks you cannot bear. You cannot fully compromise yourself.

Who inspired you? Do you have a mentor, a model?

Gandhiji and nobody else. He is the one who said that "sanitation is more important than independence" in India. He is the one who said that "whatever you do, think if it is going to benefit to the very last man." I am a Gandhian practitioner.

It is often said that if you throw a stone in India, it would hurt a social entrepreneur...

...or a pig – he interrupts.

What would be reason, according to you?

It is true and I think it has its origin in Gandhiji. It is a movement that may come from the ideas and the example of Gandhiji.

What would do say to young social entrepreneurs?

I would repeat this : faith and passion. They must have faith and passion.


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