[Year in Review 2020] 80 inspiring quotes of the year on social enterprises and changemakers

From a wide range of entrepreneurship articles in YourStory, SocialStory, HerStory, SMBstory and YS Weekender, we present you 80 inspiring quotes on social entrepreneurs!

Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a regular feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our articles. Share these quotes with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

Entrepreneurship is hard enough, but extending the fruits of enterprise to underserved communities or building the ‘triple bottom line’ of profit, people and planet is the holy grail.

From ideation to implementation, the changemakers in this compilation have memorable words for us all. In addition to inspiration and motivation, they provide hard-earned lessons about spotting problems, designing viable solutions, and achieving scaled impact.

We have divided this compilation of quotes into nine categories: purpose, impact, rural entrepreneurship, the ‘green’ movement, healthcare, women entrepreneurship, the importance of dignity, creative industries, and the road ahead.

See also YourStory’s compilations of quotes on Crisis Management and India’s COVID-19 Struggle, and annual picks of Top 10 Books, Top 5 Pivot and Persist Stories, Top 20 Author Interviews, and Top 50 Entrepreneurship Quotes.

YourStory thanks all social entrepreneurs and NGO teams for their tireless and inspiring work towards creating a better world. We wish all founders and readers a Happy Holiday Season and Happy New Year ahead!

A sense of purpose

If you don't believe in a cause, you can't contribute in a way you should be able to. - Siya Tayal, Project I am Enough

Great things happen when you take up a cause and start living it every day. - Rayna Singh

You must have passion, a plan, and innovation in that order. See yourselves as citizens first and then as innovators. - Patanjali Dev Nayar, WHO/SEARO

To be a changemaker, you need passion and perseverance. But, at the core, you also need to be compassionate. - Seva Kitchen, Khushroo Poacha

Never let your dreams die. If you have a vision, make it happen no matter how many attempts it takes. - Bhavna Juneja, MPowered

Social investing is a great merger of the “Head and the Heart” -- it thinks with the head and takes decisions with the heart. - Ratna Mehta, Wadhwani Foundation

The most successful social enterprises are able to embrace flexibility and adaptability. Persistence is key. - Elisa Birnbaum, ‘In the Business of Change’


Impact can only be created if you are able to scale up your innovation. - Harsh Mariwala, Marico

Social impact investing evaluation starts with the impact it intends to create, and the scale on which the same can be created. - Niraj Bora, Surmount Business Advisors

Impact entrepreneurship will play a critical role as we enter the new normal in curbing inequalities between the “haves” and “have-nots”. - Kunal Sood, X Fellows

There is a growing interest for people to do impactful work even when it comes to volunteering. - Mandeep Kaur, Tribes For Good

It will be interesting to see how the shock of pandemic and lockdown may inadvertently bring more talent and new models into the social entrepreneurship sector. - Madhukar Shukla, 'Social Entrepreneurship in India’

The crisis induced by COVID-19 should motivate society to raise, not reduce, its commitment to those less fortunate.  - Ramji Raghavan, Agastya International Foundation

Developing that mindset of a curious, resilient, hard-working, risk-taking, path-breaking DOER is important – whether you apply it in business or social change. - Vrunda Bansode ‘Become a Junior Entrepreneur’

It's humbling to work with folks who are passionate about leveraging the power of their business for projects beyond the bottom line. - Neel Ghose, Robin Hood Army

A business built around a purpose may not see the same kind of drop that other enterprises might. The community and customers support a business with a purpose. -  William Bissell, FabIndia

Rural entrepreneurship

The ability to build a successful company on the back of rural empowerment and community impact is more than a unique attribute; it is a superpower. - Shreya Sinha, IndiVillage Foundation

India’s development cannot just take place in urban centres; the rural economy needs to be vitalised as well. - Sudha Srinivasan, N/Core

Animal feed sector is an underserved market and not much innovation has been seen here in the past. - Nikhil Bohra, Krimanshi

Biopesticide is a sunrise area. - Girish Soman, Nisarga Herbs

There are more than 3.5 crore micro-entrepreneurs in rural India who have huge potential for contributing to India's growth. - Rajiv Kumar, Niti Aayog

Sustainable agricultural technology can transform the global food landscape. - Sangeeta Bavi, Microsoft India

India is a massive market for eggs, yet there aren't any good plant-based alternatives yet. - Ryan Bethencourt, Wild Earth

India’s farmers and rural communities are massively under-insured. - Jatin Singh, GramCover

Agritech can be a newfound opportunity to bring back glory to Indian farmers and help them ramp up their contribution to India’s GDP. - Amith Agarwal, Agribazaar

Several tribal groups do not have even basic facilities to lead a decent standard of life. They are either unemployed, exploited or extremely reliant on agriculture. - Shubhasish Chakraborty, 'Travels through Spaces of Orality'

Moving forward, as India further prepares for being self-sufficient, the need to equip the cattle farmers with resources and technology is of high importance. -  Ishaan Khosla, Huddle

There is a huge opportunity for startups that will help improve the climate resilience of Indian farmers. - Mark Kahn, Omnivore

Most of the rural folk in India are still struggling to earn their livelihood, and many are known to be living with the funds borrowed from moneylenders. - Naman Tekriwal, Rural Invest

National highways are important, but rural roads matter more. Better rural transport infrastructure means that we can access farms in large parts of India much easier. - Karthik Jayaraman, WayCool Foods

The Green Movement

The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself. - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

With a steady rise in temperature and electricity unit prices, the need for solar to power air conditioners is increasing. - Shreyas Gowda, Oorjan

It is possible to have a company that is good for business AND good for the environment. -   Sandeep Singh, Blue Tribe

Eco-entrepreneurship is helping people become responsible professionals while also ingraining sustainable living as a new normal. - Bhrigu Seth, Responsible Whatr

Climate change has affected mostly communities in the last mile. It has impacted life, destroyed homes, caused displacements and impacted livelihood. That’s why we can’t ignore sustainability anymore. - Moirangthem Seth, SNL Energy Solutions

Choose fair-trade certified goods when possible to support the industry dedicated to sustainable production, which also pays labourers a fair wage. - Arpit Srivastava, Lenzing Group

Unscientific waste disposal and inadequate sanitation facilities affect both the health of humans and the environment they live in. - Uttam Banerjee, Ekam Eco Solutions

There is a perception that green buildings are expensive, and difficult to maintain. - Vijayadurga Koppisetti, Architude

The move from ‘misuse to reuse’ of plastic can make a positive difference in all spheres of life. - Ujwal Desai, Lucro Plastecycle

Only nine percent of our plastics' recycled, globally. We need to improve our waste management systems. - Emily Penn, eXXpedition

There is a huge gap right now in the recycling capacity of e-waste. We need better systems to dispose of toxic waste. - Pranshu Singhal, Karo Sambhav

Fashion giants and upcoming brands must pivot and deploy a triple bottom line approach in their operations - catering not just to profits, but to their people and to the planet as well. - Tanvi Bikhchandani, Tamarind Chutney

Slow fashion is the need of the hour wherein brands produce thoughtfully designed, high-quality clothes using non-polluting raw materials and zero-waste production facilities. - Tanvi Bikhchandani, Tamarind Chutney

Decentralisation of water solutions is one of the best methods and should be adopted on a large scale. - Poonam Sevak, Safe Water Network

Clean drinking water is a basic right and yet an unsolved problem for millions of Indian households. - Badri Pillapakkam, Omidyar Network India


Collective action is required to address the needs and challenges faced in creating and providing assistive tech solutions. - Chapal Khasnabis, WHO

Being vocal will reduce the stigma. The social taboo surrounding HIV/AIDS harms people’s life socially and economically. - Jahnabi Goswami, ANPP

Hospitals must have a comprehensive strategy in place to integrate palliative care in their services. - Rumana Hamied, Cipla Foundation

One of the primary reasons for low health insurance penetration in India is opaque policies that come with infinite terms and conditions attached. - Rakesh Jain, RGI

With the ageing population and their evolving preferences, India needs to evolve its way of approaching senior care. - Rajit Mehta, Antara Senior Living

Though Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical science, it started seizing the market shelves only in the recent past. - Vishal Kaushik, Upakarma Ayurveda

There are too many barriers to accessing quality healthcare, ranging from financial constraints and geographic access to cultural norms and perhaps most importantly, lack of awareness. - Victor Mohan, Reach Lives

Women entrepreneurship

Women entrepreneurship is no longer a ‘nice to have’ phenomenon, but a crucial pedestal for India to meet its target of job creation and economic development. - Ratna Mehta, Wadhwani Foundation

Just as we say that a bird with one wing cannot fly, women that make up more than half the population of India must also be part of the growth story. - Jahnabi Phookan, FICCI FLO

One successful woman entrepreneur opens a wide window of opportunities for many. - Vinay Subramanyam, Britannia Industries

Even today, many in India are living without access to menstrual products, lack of privacy to wash or use clean toilets. A collective approach is imperative to root this out. - Deane De Menezes, Red is the New Green

Inclusion is a prerequisite for building a diverse ecosystem. - Krishna Raghavan, Flipkart

A radical embrace of inclusion helps because the best ideas often come from unexpected places. - Brad Feld and Ian Hathaway, ‘The Startup Community Way’

The importance of dignity

A life of dignity continues to be out of reach for most persons with disabilities. - Chumki Datta, Vriddhi

The last patent in the sector of faecal sludge handling was made in 1966 for the vacuum tanker, before which we had the septic tank system standardised in 1940. Thereafter, we’ve seen nothing new. - Rakesh Kasba, JALODBUST

People with disabilities exist in the world and we are ten percent of India's population. We are hardly seen and even less heard. - Shalini Saraswathi

Technology cannot replace the classroom when it came to reaching out to homeless and destitute people. - Geetanjali Chopra

The blue-collar consumer and the emerging gig-economy segments are today not serviced by traditional banks and NBFCs. - Nikhil Banerjee, SuperMoney

Affordable housing finance presents a large untapped opportunity. - Nirav Mehta, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia

There are over 250 million blue and grey collar workers in India at present and providing meaningful employment opportunities to this segment is one of the biggest challenges. - Harshjit Sethi, Sequoia Capital India

By 2022, we need 700 million skilled workers. However, only 10 percent of the total workforce receives any formal skill training. - Varun Chopra, Eduvanz

Creative industries

When you support traditional crafts, you help our artisans to pass on their skills to the next generation and keep our arts and crafts alive. - Saloni Sacheti

Weavers sell to a limited market, making it difficult to sustain and leave the profession. The lack of decent wages is driving away the younger generation to take up the activity as a profession. - Dinesh Suram, Pickmycloth

When you support traditional crafts, you help our artisans to pass on their skills to the next generation and keep our arts and crafts alive. - Saloni Sacheti, Baansuli

The beauty of sarees is that they are fluid and can be reused and upcycled into dresses, bags, furnishings, and accessories too. - Avipsha Thakur, Bunavat

There are amazing children’s book publishers in India, but if you talk to anyone in the industry, they will say it’s still underdeveloped. - Chiki Sarkar, Juggernaut

The road ahead

Giving back need not be a CSR activity, to be done only after a certain scale of revenue and profits. - Anurakt Jain, Klub

These days private greed seems to be winning over public good. Unfortunately, the former is influencing the government to a large extent. - Harish Kumar, Namma Bengaluru Foundation

Innovative solutions for the sustainable development of community is the need of the hour. - Padmaja Ruparel, IAN Fund

Innovation is now about finding and solving the biggest, most crucial problems of the world. - Debjani Ghosh, NASSCOM

We are the generation that needs to take responsibility for the world we live in today, our home. - Jayanti Bhattacharya, India Hemp & Co

Millennials don’t stick with brands, they stick with a cause. - Ashutosh Singh, Yayy! Naturals

We are beginning to see increasing collaboration between different kinds of players in the ecosystem because everyone has realised that social problems are too complex, intractable and long term to change alone. - Smarinita Shetty, India Development Review

Compassion is the birthplace for courage, which is an essential skill for all leaders. - Bhavna Toor, Shenomics

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).


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