India ranks as the 14th best country to be a social entrepreneur, ahead of Australia (26th), China (34th), and Brazil (40th), according to new research from the Thomas Reuters Foundation. While ease of obtaining finance brought up the country’s overall ranking, there is still room for improvement in the areas of public awareness, government contracts, and gender parity.
Obtaining finance not the key problem faced by Indian social entrepreneurs surveyed
India ranked 5th in terms of ease of access to investment funding and 8th for access to grant funding. This reflects a robust and growing impact investing space in India, on top of traditional sources of philanthropic funds. India was also ranked relatively highly for the ability of social entrepreneurs in the country to earn a living from their work.
Finding talent, raising public awareness and working with government present challenges
A nascent sector in India, social enterprise has relatively low levels of public awareness. The country ranks 34th in general public understanding what social entrepreneurs do. India social entrepreneurs also find it difficult to attract qualified staff, who often view working for a social enterprise as more risky and less well paying compared to traditional organizations.
Social entrepreneurs continue to have difficulty getting government contracts, and the country ranks 37th in this area—India’s poorest performance in any category. This comes despite relatively supportive policies and a political climate favorable to entrepreneurship in general, reflected in the recent establishment of a Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
Gender parity remains elusive
Women’s participation in social enterprise is another area in which India still lags behind. The positive recognition for the work of individual entrepreneurs like Ajaita Shah, who distributes solar-powered lamps and stoves in rural Rajasthan through her company Frontier Markets, masks persistent gender inequalities in the sector. In the areas of equal representation of women in social enterprise leadership and equal pay for female social entrepreneurs, India ranked 27th and 36th, respectively.
Note: This article was co-authored by Jeremy Wade & Isabel Salovaara , from the Jindal Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship (JSiE). JSiE is a social innovation lab in North India which aims to strengthen the capacity of individuals and organizations to develop innovative solutions to complex social and environmental problems. The JSiE is an initiative of O.P. Jindal Global University. Learn more here.