This is cross-posted from Samhita, and written by Namit Agrawal, Samhita Communications Manager.
Mumbai, February 20; Hans Heitz, co-founder, Grameen Creative Lab (GCL) launched the Mumbai chapter of Grameen Creative Lab at a gathering of social business enthusiasts.
GCL, a joint venture between Nobel Laureate Prof. Yunus and serial entrepreneur Hans Reitz was officially founded in 2009. GCL envisions eradicating poverty by accelerating and spreading the spirit of social business under the principles of Prof. Yunus.
Prof. Yunus believes that India is well positioned to tap the huge potential for growth of social business within its existing legal and regulatory framework.
“There is a beautiful young generation that wants to change the country. Feeling this energy, it was very easy for us to decide that this is the place to come,” says Hans Heitz.
There is a very rapidly increasing interest in social enterprise in the country in general and the youth in particular. But, there is very little guidance available for such enthusiasts willing to join the bandwagon.
“It is important to write down what social impact you want to achieve, then start small and keep going,” advises Heitz.
Prof. Yunus defines social business as a cause-driven business where the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company; no personal gain is desired by the investors.
In the recent past several social businesses have been started by young graduates who have said no to high paying corporate jobs. There are also those who have now realised that their existing business is actually social.
“I started an organic cafe and an eco-friendly homestay in Pondicherry about an year ago. It was only after I read about the concept of social business that I realised I am actually in social business,” says Snehal.
GCL Mumbai also launched the Yunus Social Business Fund of Mumbai with Rupees 5 crores to begin with.
“The Yunus Social Business Fund Mumbai is the first social business fund in India. The fund is managed out of Mumbai and is ready to invest into and incubate social businesses across multiple sectors in India,” says Heitz.
“I am hoping that Grameen Social Business Fund will finance projects that aid the most basic needs of the Indian population like it has in other countries,” says Zainab Kakal, a young social business enthusiast working for Niiticonsulting.
Prof. Yunus is also working with Oscar-winning film director Shekhar Kapur to start a social business fund to invest into water-related social businesses in India. Mr Kapur, who is passionate about water-related issues in India and is currently working on his new film “Paani” (“water” in Hindi), will act as ambassador for the fund.
GCL Mumbai has given a reason to cheer for social business enthusiasts in Mumbai. GCL plans to spread to other cities in India soon.
You can get in touch with the GCL Mumbai coordinator Aarti.Wig@grameencl.com