What comes to your mind when you think of social entrepreneurship? Helping the poor? Bringing about social change? Impacting the less privileged sections? Think of this simple scenario. We are high-paid corporate professionals or high networth individuals. The servant maid at home needs money for her child’s studies. So we sponsor the child’s education by paying her the required money. We can afford it. It wouldn’t even count a percentage of what we earn that way.Our own inner desire to help the poor or to make an impact in someone’s lives drives us to contribute a portion of our earnings towards a noble cause like donating to Spastics Society of India or buying CRY greeting cards. Given an option, would you like to be working with less privileged people to make their lives better? In most cases, there is an inner desire in all well-intentioned people to create a change. Many people want to engage in a social cause at some point in their lives. It is more so in people who are comfortable, reaching the so-called last stage in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
When the desire to initiate a social change or impact the society takes a philanthropic outlook, it most commonly results in a nongovernmental organization (NGO). It’s heart’s calling. Even Bill Gates donated billions of dollars for “charity.” NGOs have limited mandate and can only create limited impact. Why? Because it is one side giving and the other side receiving. NGOs survive by donor contributions and may be dictated by donor desires or donor ambitions. But they do make a meaningful difference to society. But for NGOs, a few things are just not possible. NGOs bridge the gap between governmental action and social need. They are substitutes for government as government cannot undertake every social initiative.
If you just stop with donating, the receiver is less endowed. The receiver is perceived to be incapable and can only receive. What is the most meaningful way to create social change? Leverage the strengths of the society, individuals, or less developed region cooperatively by applying rules of business. When NGOs hit probably a plateau, many possibilities emerged, fired by Mohammed Yunis demonstrating the powerful way to create social impact and receiving the highest recognition for his service in form of a Nobel Prize. Prof. C. K. Prahalad found fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Rural markets are vibrant markets.
How is change created? Adoption of your solution or your innovation becomes easy when it fulfills the most unfulfilled need. If your solution or product reaching out to the rural areas can be commercialized and you reap profits, you create a social enterprise with twinfold results: meaningful social change and profits. This is product-driven social change. It requires patience and takes longer time for adoption by the target customer. That’s what Villgro has been doing for years now. Villgro enables social innovations translate into social enterprises, thereby impacting rural poor.
Social change can also be brought about by services-oriented approach. If your service bridges the most wanted gap, then your services are availed of in a large scale. Money is the need of anyone, be it a rural or an urban individual. Microfinance has flourished making use of this need. Microfinance companies are the most successful financial institutions today.
What characterizes India of today? Affluence driven by wealthiness in urban areas, leaving certain sections of the society and certain parts of the country behind. Urban infrastructure has been the top priority for governments but rural areas are neglected. How do we drive the nation’s growth by an inclusive approach?
If we create a situation in which growth happens at a rapid pace in both urban and rural areas, almost competing with each other, then we create a country that witnesses all-round development. Who will do this job? The social entrepreneur. Social entrepreneur does not do social work -- taking money from donors and using it to drive social change. The social entrepreneur applies the principles of business to an unfulfilled need in the less explored hinterlands of the country, thereby creating financial rewards. By leveraging the strengths of the people in these areas, he or she enables social change with financial growth. The people who are served by the social entrepreneur get financially rewarded and they earn it by working towards it. Not just getting donations.
Financial inclusion is the key driver for social change and to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. Socioeconomic deficit and related problems even to the extent of threat to national security need redressal. The person who is at the forefront of this social revolution is the social entrepreneur.
Following the huge success of identifying the TechSparks of 2010, we at YourStory are now set out to identify the social entrepreneurs who work towards social change by creating social enterprises. We believe this endeavor ties all loose ends up -- social change removing socioeconomic deficit. If we at all need to salute someone in a country like ours, it is only the social entrepreneur. We are just doing that. Come join us on November 23, 2010 as we identify these outstanding social change agents who create financial rewards.
If you are a social entrepreneur, be sure to apply for a nomination in the Sociopreneur 2010. You drive our energies now.
-- Contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist, YourStory
Get the Details of Sociopreneurship India 2010 at http://www.yourstory.in/news/4567-yourstoryin-and-cnbc-tv18-young-turks-launch-sociopreneurship-india-building-market-linkages-for-social-inclusion-