Who will win India's 2013 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award?

By Nelson Vinod Moses|13th Sep 2013
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Anshu Gupta, founder Goonj was the winner of the 2012 Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Pic credit: www.indiacsr.in

Every year The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, chooses the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) across multiple countries. In recognition of its status as global social enterprise hub, India is the only country in the Asia Pacific region that has been carved out as a separate geography. In India, the Schwab Foundation partners with the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation to select the winner. This year a total of 209 nominations have been received, a growth of 19 per cent compared to 180 nominations in 2012, making this the largest number since the awards were started in 2010.

Previous winners from India include Neelam Chibber, founder of Mother Earth and Anshu Gupta, founder, Goonj. Winners benefit by being included in the Schwab Foundation network of social entrepreneurs, receive pro-bono consulting services and scholarships to executive education courses at world-class institutions such as Harvard Business School, Stanford University and INSEAD.

They will be also be invited to the regional meetings of the World Economic Forum, highlighted as leading social entrepreneurs in a plenary session with heads of state and/or corporate leaders. A few excellent finalists or winners under 40 will also be nominated to the Young Global Leaders network of the World Economic Forum.

SocialStory’s (SS) Nelson Vinod Moses interacted with Vivek Prakash (VM), general manager- corporate social responsibility at Jubilant Life Sciences (the mother organization of Jubilant Bhartia Foundation) via email to find out more about the award, why its important for social entrepreneurs to apply, Jubilant’s association with Schwab Foundation and why India is an important geography for social entrepreneurship.

SS: Tell us a bit about the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) award?

VP: Social entrepreneurs drive social innovation and transformation in various fields, including education, health, environment and enterprise development. They pursue poverty alleviation goals with entrepreneurial zeal, business methods and the courage to innovate and overcome traditional practices. Social entrepreneurship has become a global movement. Companies are increasingly seeing social entrepreneurs and their organizations as ideal partners to reach new client groups at the base of the pyramid. They find that working with social entrepreneurs is a pragmatic and effective way to demonstrate their corporate citizenship.

Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs are invited to actively participate in the regional and annual meetings of the World Economic Forum, where they have access to a network of global leaders in politics, business, media, and academia. They engage in Forum initiatives, the discussions shaping the future agendas of industries, and serve as experts in the Forum’s Global Agenda Councils. They benefit from pro-bono consulting services, legal advice and stipends to world-class executive education courses through the partners of the Foundation. Social Entrepreneurs also explore best practices through peer exchanges within the Schwab Foundation community.

For the past 10 years, the Foundation has added 20-25 social entrepreneurs annually from around the world into its network of leading social entrepreneurs. The social entrepreneurs are selected from more than 1,000 candidates that apply each year either to a national competition in collaboration with corporate partners or to the global selection process of the Foundation.

SS: How did Jubilant Bhartia Foundation become associated with this award?

VP: Jubilant Bhartia Group believes in engaging its stakeholders in its growth process i.e. inclusive growth. The Jubilant Bhartia Foundation (JBF) is primarily engaged in implementation of social interventions in and around its manufacturing locations. Through which JBF is addressing the issues related to education, health and livelihood in its project area. The Foundation believes that if such development would be done on a large scale, it will create a huge impact in the advancement of the society. Social Entrepreneurs, whose mission is to address the social issues, can play a major role in bringing about a dynamic change in the country. Therefore, the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation has partnered with the Schwab Foundation since year 2010 to run the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) Award in India.

The Schwab Foundation has been selecting and recognizing social entrepreneurs globally since year 2001. It has dedicated a national selection process to India since year 2005.

SS: For the awards India is a separate geography unlike many other countries that are clubbed with a continent- what does this reflect?

VP: This reflects that India is the hub of social entrepreneurship, as huge social issues exist in India, from health to poverty to illiteracy. New ideas and socially conscious leaders are desperately needed to develop these ideas into sustainable solutions. Social entrepreneurs bring an entrepreneurial approach to solving social problems therefore they are a growing breed in India. 

SS: Why should Indian social entrepreneurs apply for this award? What’s in it for them?

VP: Award Celebration – All finalists will be invited to a high-level award ceremony in November, and possibly an associated World Economic Forum event in India at around the same time. This is a unique opportunity to connect with business executives, key government leaders, civil society members and media representatives of the region. The flight, lodging, and registration fees for all finalists will be covered.

The Schwab Foundation Network – The winner(s) will be included in the Schwab Foundation network. Benefits include access to a peer community of social entrepreneurs, services such as pro-bono consulting and legal advice, as well as scholarships to executive education courses at world-class institutions, such as INSEAD and Harvard Business School. In addition, network social entrepreneurs are eligible to participate in World Economic Forum meetings. Through this regional and global platform, social entrepreneurs have the opportunity to influence policy makers and industry agendas, and to serve as experts in Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum.

Possible nomination to the Forum of Young Global Leaders – excellent finalists/winners under 40 years of age will also be nominated to the Young Global Leaders (YGL) network of the World Economic Forum. The YGL group is a community of proven global leaders under 40 years of age who have achieved national and global recognition for their accomplishments in the field of government, business, media or academia.

Jubilant Bhartia Foundation – The Jubilant Bhartia Foundation will help finalists and winners connect with government and business leaders in India. There will also be opportunity to interface with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) heads given the recent Companies Bill 2012, which mandates the expenditure of 2% of PAT towards CSR.

SS: What is the judging process and what the criteria?

VP: Judging Process:

Step 1 – Those interested in being considered as candidates submit the application form. Information gathered in the selection process will remain confidential and submit additional information such as Curriculum Vitae, a recent evaluation report of the organization, income statements, etc.

Step 2 The Schwab Foundation and local experts review the information forms submitted by Second Round Candidates. Those who qualify are invited to be semi-finalists. At this stage, further information is gathered through site visits to the candidate’s organization and/or interviews with the candidate and key informants. This due diligence step enables the selection of the finalists.

Step 3  Finalists Selected

Step 4 –Eminent Jury selects the winners

Step 5  Winners are announced


1.  Innovation: The social enterprise achieves transformative social and/or environmental change through the application of innovative and practical approaches to benefit society in general, with an emphasis on underserved populations.

2.  Sustainability: The organization demonstrates a sustainable business model and a proven track record. Social enterprises incorporated as non-profits should ideally demonstrate a diverse funding base and some degree of cost-recovery (at least 10-20%) in their model. Social enterprises incorporated as for-profits holds financial value creation as a secondary objective and a means to reach more beneficiaries, not as an end in itself.

3.  Direct social impact: Monitoring and evaluation systems are in place to cite quantifiable impact data as well as explain how the information is used to improve the organization’s product or service offering.

4.  Reach and scope: The social entrepreneur’s initiative has spread beyond its initial location and has been adapted successfully to other settings in the country or internationally, either by the entrepreneur him/herself, or through others who have replicated or adapted elements of it.

5.  Scalability: The initiative has been or can be adapted to other regions of the world to solve similar problems. The entrepreneur is open to sharing with others the tools, approaches, and techniques that are critical to the adaptation of the initiative.

6.  The candidate as an ambassador: SEOY evaluates not only the candidate’s organization but also the individual(s) leading it, for the very simple reason that the Schwab Foundation network of social entrepreneurs is a community of people. At regional and annual meetings of the World Economic Forum, social entrepreneurs from Schwab Foundation interact on a peer-to-peer level with CEOs and public figures and act as ambassadors of their respective sector. In addition, social entrepreneurs are expected to commit their time and energy to building the social innovation field through various taskforces and working groups managed by the Schwab Foundation.

SS: What is the mix of sectors in the 209 nominations this year?

VP: Education (17%) Rural Development (15%) and health (14%), Environment 12%, Technology / Enterprise Development 9% each respectively; Water & Sanitation – 7%, Financial Institution – 5%, Labour Conditions 4%, Communication/Media, Fair Trade – 3% each; Others – 2%

SS: Are they a mix of for profit and non-profit? Does the SEOY lean towards one or the other?

Yes there are 3 categories of Social Enterprises, on basis of which, the SEOY is selected.

1.    Leveraged not-for-profit:A not-for-profit organization that commits a cross section of society, including private and public organizations as well as volunteers that drive forward the innovation through a multiplier effect. The organization depends on outside funding for its survival but its longer term sustainability is enhanced because of the commitment of a multiplicity of actors to the vision and objectives of the organization which often ends up transcending the organization itself.

2.    Hybrid not-for-profit: A not-for-profit but the model includes some degree of cost-recovery through the sale of goods and services to a cross section of partnering institutions – public and private, as well as to target population groups. However, to be able to sustain the transformational activities in full and address the needs of clients, most who are poor or otherwise marginalized from society, the organization mobilizes other sources of funds from the public and/ or the philanthropic sectors. Those funds can be in the form of grants or loans.

3.    Hybrid for-profit: A business that drives transformational change. While profits are generated, the main aim is not to maximize financial returns for shareholders but to grow the social venture and reach more people in need effectively. Wealth accumulation is not a priority – profits are reinvested in the enterprise in order to fund expansion. Investors in the organization are interested in combining financial and social returns on their investments.

SS: What does the increase in nominations tell you about the social entrepreneurship scene in India right now?

VP: Social entrepreneurship in India has progressed significantly over the last decade. More and more people are using entrepreneurial skills in building sustainable enterprises for profit and non-profit to effect change in India. The increase in the number of application shows that there is an increase in awareness amongst the people of India.