Social entrepreneurs are known for their innovative approaches to address social problems - be it bridging the gap between haves and have not’s, unemployability and more. The deployment of technology coupled with social innovations has effectively addressed various social-related problems.
On the second day of YourStory TechSparks 2016, the panel discussion on “The resurgence of the social sector: tech and social impact” threw light on how a social enterprise can do more with less using technology?
Outline India founder Prerna Mukharya said that India is a very big country where more than 700 million live in villages. However, the country is still resource-constraint.
Founded in July 2012, Outline India provides solutions for executing field surveys across India. It covers areas such as health, manufacturing, energy and chemicals, education, finance, environment, labour market, infrastructure, and governance for conducting surveys.
Yogita Muttha, Founder and CEO of The Violet, highlighted that they have created an online box subscription that has samples of premium cosmetics, gourmet chocolates, fine teas and coffee and female hygiene products. For each box sold, the platform donates sanitary essentials to underprivileged through few NGOs. So far, the platform has donated sanitary pads to over 10,000 underprivileged girls in 150 cities in India.
Ritu Verma - founding partner of Ankur Capital, an angel impact fund - said that Ankur Capital invests in companies that want to address the people at the bottom of the pyramid in India. They are looking for entrepreneurs who address social problems or real life problems.
Ankur Capital has a portfolio of nine companies. Ritu emphasised that all their portfolio companies use technology as a backbone, and for many of them technology is the reason that they can do their business.
Trade-off between creating a social impact and building a business
On asking how to manage the hybrid position of both creating impact on the society and earning revenue, Prerna pointed out that though Outline India is structured as a for-profit organisation, most of its clients are non-profit organisation, charities and foundation. She said,
People often ask that if you are structured as a for-profit, how will you create a social enterprise if you are making money out of it.
Yogita added that The Violet is a for-profit organisation that builds a beautiful product to solve real problem, give good service and create a social impact.
“We are not an NGO to take donations, sponsorship and then create impact. We are running a successful business solving a real problem and creating social views,” said Yogita.
Principal Architect at The Auroma Group, Trupti Doshi, emphasised that creating a business is equal to creating an impact. She has created Sharanam Rural Development Centre – Phase 1, in rural Tamil Nadu.
“Sharanam has been an extremely challenging and fulfilling project owing to a barren and abused site, abysmally low groundwater levels, creating thermal comfort in an excessively hot and humid climate and near absence of skilled workforce,” said Trupti in an earlier interaction with YourStory.
At TechSparks 2016, Trupti said:
We want to set up the business with values where people, planet, and profit, all three positively get impacted with the business.
On how to scale up in social entrepreneurship, Ritu suggested that entrepreneurs should focus more on reaching out to more customers, and have an in-depth knowledge of the target market size.
“Technology brings down the cost of delivery, it increases your reach quickly and it also brings in transparency,” said Ritu.
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