Tag Archives: social entrepreneurship in india

A Design for change

17 Oct

In early 2009, Kiran Bir Sethi launched her biggest initiative to date, a national campaign that encourages school children across India to participate in a one-week project to change some aspect of life in their own communities. With only a few months’ lead time, she bravely vowed to involve 20,000 schools and 100,000 students. In fact, 32,274 schools across India participated in the “Design for Giving School Contest”, and hundreds of thousands of school kids were involved. Participants entered as student teams represented through a classroom, grade, or school. Having been invited to “redesign” their communities, winners were chosen based on their projects’ impact according to the number of people affected, quickest impact, maximum potential for long-lasting change, easiest to replicate, and most environmentally friendly. A special Gandhi Prize was also awarded—all projects take place the week of October 2, the revered leader’s birthday.

The thousands of projects submitted to the “Design for Giving School Contest” ranged across nine languages and diverse imperatives. Among them: Save Our Mangroves, Help Reach the Unreachables, Avoid Transgender Discrimination, Care for and Protect the Homeless, and Stop Child Marriages. Also proposed were Collect Plastic Bags Week, Playground for Children, Dignified Attire, and a Stop Spitting Campaign. My favorite proposal came from a village where the crematorium was located next to the schoolyard. Children who had clear sightings of burials during recess organized to petition the town council to erect a wall blocking their view. The wall doubled as a space for posting public announcements. Per the contest’s stipulations, this project too was accomplished within a week.

The Bishop’s Co-ED School was one of the school that made its way to the submission:

Directed & Produced by Aarti Shrivastava


“Every Child an Entrepreneur”

14 Oct
The idea of “Every Child an Entrepreneur” came about when the kids desired changes in their school in the form of computer education. Since the school did not have funds for a computer, the kids initially decided to raise fund by donation but coming from low income communities, they were able to raise only 3K which was not sufficient to buy a computer. Despite the set-back, the children turned it into an opportunity by coming up with a brilliant idea to organize themselves in interest groups and work over Saturdays to produce artifacts for a Fun fair using the initial 3K as seed money. The idea was that they wanted to create a market where they could sell their goods and hopefully raise enough funds for a computer.
On 2nd October 2010, the Sunrise Team organized SUNFEST – A FUN FAIR!! The Fun Fair was Phase 2 of the “Every Child an Entrepreneur” program wherein the school children tried to raise funds for buying a school computer; from a fun filled event featuring games, prizes, music, delicious food and art+crafts made exclusively by the kids over the past few weeks. The event was a huge success with more than 20 stalls put up by the students attracting more than 1000 visitors. The event made a profit of 13K which was enough to buy a computer as was the original objective of the “Every Child an Entrepreneur”.
The most heartening aspect though is the fact that it has given the kids the confidence of “I CAN” and they are already planning for a larger “Annual Event”  with the objective of raising funds for a water purification unit in school. As was apt on occasion of 2nd October, “The Children became the CHANGE they want to see in the world”

Directed & Produced By Aarti Shrivastava

Empowering the impoverished

3 Oct

The students of Jamnabai Narsee School have taken up this project with the help of Navjeet Community Health Centre which is an outreach of the Holy Family Hospital. This centre has served poor slum communities since 1978. Thousands of lives have been transformed through Navjeet projects in integrated health care, education, community development and empowerment of women.

These students have been visiting one such municipal school, identified by Navjeet,  daily since the last 10 days and undertook various activities like teaching prayer singing, dance, making cards, paper bags, puppet shows, lessons from relevant academic course, importance of hygiene, etc.

The objective was to:

· Animate the disadvantaged sections of our society in order to tap their potential

· Enhance the quality of their life thorough Education, Health, Advocacy and Community Development to place them on the path of quality living.

These five students touched the lives of around 50 slum children and left an indelible mark. This is the change they wish to bring in our entire society.

Directed & Produced By Aarti Shrivastava

Design is capable of igniting change !!

29 Sep

“The Idea of getting children to isolate a problem that deeply affects them, then find and implement a solution, empowers them in a way most people never enjoy. It is a belief that CAN and WILL build more just, compassionate and happier societies.”

– RAHUL BOSE, Actor/Activist.

Design For Change is the World’s largest contest for school children. 24 countries are a part of this contest where school children design simple yet bold solutions for some of the biggest problems that our world is facing.

In early 2009, Kiran Bir Sethi (Riverside School) launched her biggest initiative to date, a national campaign that encourages school children across India to participate in a one-week project to change some aspect of life in their own communities. With only a few months’ lead time, she bravely vowed to involve 20,000 schools and 100,000 students.

For the Design for Change Week, children are asked to design solutions for problems that they encounter in their lives, schools, neighbourhoods or communities, implement these solutions in a week, and then share it.

Akanksha Team, at Shindewadi School will be empowering children to do the same this week which is call “Joy of Giving Week.”

Akanksha Shindewadi Mumbai Public School in Dadar

They come from low income communities and the majority of them live in the adjoining neighborhood. They are saddened to think of the water, noise and air pollution. Images of the dirt but naturally haunt them, since they see it around them every single day. They express their anger towards people throwing anything to everything straight out of their windows, on cars, on the streets, on roof tops etc. While they sit out in the shade for extra class they are afraid some wrapper or fruit peel may fall directly on their teacher’s head. These bright children who are being educated in English medium schools and empowered to think and question independently, realize that it is this very act of their families and communities at large – act of polluting – that results in all the illnesses, which in turn results in absence from school and poor. This downward spiral seems but inevitable once begun. But our Standard 3 and 4 children beg the question – Why should this circle of dirt and pollution begin in the first place?

So children came up with a very interesting solution! A solution they believed will change their surrounding. Watch it to believe it. Very inspiring!

Please select 720p HD below YouTube window to view this video clearly!

Directed & Produced By Aarti Shrivastava

Edited By Pranav Patel

You don’t need to ask for permission to change the world !!

27 Sep

Design for Change is an innovative and exciting competition for young people that might just change the world! Young people who enter are asked to design a solution to a problem in their community and make it happen. Each individual change builds momentum and energy behind significant positive change driven by our young people.

The competition originated in India where it has had a massive impact. Design for Change is not just a competition; it will become an inspiring and empowering community that will help young people believe that they matter and they can make a difference.

Participants are given a simple task: design a solution to a problem in your community and make it happen!

The purpose of the project is to:

  • Help people believe that they matter.
  • Help them discover that change can happen and that they can become drivers of it.
  • Help them to believe, “I Can!”

The competition is designed to be flexible and ‘teacher friendly’ – allowing participating schools and groups to design their own project, in their own way, to fit with school terms, holidays, and other curriculum demands.

However, Design for Change is brilliantly different.

In this competition children are encourage to think beyond money, and fundraising. They are asked to get directly involved in designing and leading change in their local community. Hands on! In every case the participants amaze and inspire their teachers, parents and their communities.  They are transformed by this competition, and so is everyone connected to it.

Just watching the video on this page  – will inspire you to be part of this.

Directed & Produced By Aarti Shrivastava

Camera Work By Sushil

Edited By Pranav Patel

Social Entrepreneurship in India

5 Aug

The major boost in social entrepreneurship was given by the Nobel Prize winner Dr. Mohammad Yunus when his brain-child Grameen bank became successful in helping people lift themselves out of poverty in rural Bangladesh by providing them with credit without requiring collateral. Yunus developed his revolutionary micro-credit system with the belief that it would be a cost-effective and scalable weapon to fight poverty.  It was soon realized that profits can be made along with serving the society, provided you treat profits as a means and not the end result.

The impact of such enterprise largely depend on its successful implementation to those that need it the most, those at the Bottom of the Pyramid. And of course a discussion about the BOP wouldn’t be complete without mention of India; where hundreds of millions critically need a compelling movement in social entrepreneurship to improve their welfare.  There is a natural predilection towards rural areas as 70% of the population lives in the hinterland. Recently, the rural scenario in the country has emerged as a lucrative option for the mainstream economy. Various organizations are viewing rural areas as potential markets, resulting in a gamut of innovative solutions within the social entrepreneurship space that focuses on and emerges from rural areas.

The popularity of SE is growing at a very high pace in India even through the current economic downturn. In the last three years more and more youth are developing interest in this field including those from prestigious Stanford, MIT and Oxford. This new evolving field has also got early venture capitalist interested in funding with many seeking out such enterprises that hold out huge potential. Earlier, organizations solving social problems were often assumed to be idealistic, philanthropic and lacking business acumen or the ability to be entrepreneurial. However, as the social sector has been coming in touch with the private sector, both have begun to realize that just one approach either pure philanthropic or pure capitalist is inadequate to build sustainable institutions.

In recent years, ‘not-for-profit’ has been pushed to the back partly because of responsible lenders and social enterprises are being run more like businesses today. The focus is on enterprising micro groups which want to transform their own, and the community’s, circumstances but can’t access any finance.

Fast company in their March 2010 listed “top 10 by Industry”. And four of the top 10 most innovative companies in India were standalone social enterprises or have socially entrepreneurial initiatives.

In India alone social entrepreneurship space has a countless mixture of models with a one billion thinking structure. One billion thinking requires cost-effective models involving the bottom of the pyramid. The majority of these models are scalable and replicable.

Few for-profit social business models

Enterprise Impact Future Plan
VNL: Makes telecom equipment that helps mobile operators reach rural markets profitably 70 station in Rajasthan Replicating and scaling it worldwide
NARAYAN HOSPITAL- Delivering affordable healthcare to the masses worldwide 5000 bed facility completed in phase 1 Health city with 30,000 bed facility by 2016
A LITTLE WORLD-Empowering micro business through micro banking Customer base crosses 3 million Touch a billion people through innovative technologies
BAREFOOT COLLEGE-solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development 1,000 Barefoot experts in 1,000 villages, reaches 500,000 people with basic services such as drinking water, health care, and education 10,00,000 people by the end of 2016
CHILDLINE-Country’s first toll-free tele-helpline for street children in distress 9.6 million calls, 3 million children, 73 cities, 10 years 600 + districts by 2013
BASIX INDIA-Sustainable livelihoods to the rural poor and women Over a million and a half customer
CRAFTS BRIDGE-A bridge between customers worldwide and crafts persons, designers N/A To tap 6 million village people associated with the handicrafts sector
ARVIND EYE HOSPITAL – Eliminating needless blindness by taking its services to rural India In last year alone 2.5 million patients were treated and over 3 lakh surgeries were performed To replicate it in all states of India
COMAT-Empowering rural citizens by creating local
economies and enabling access to information and services
Deliver Citizen records and Government benefits to over 50,000 rural citizens every day 75,000 by the end of 2011
D.LIGHT-High quality solutions for families living
without reliable electricity
10 million 50 million by 2015
IDE INDIA-Providing long-term solutions to poverty, hunger and malnutrition 19 million Ending poverty in the developing world
RANGSUTRA– Sustainable livelihoods for artisans and farmers, by creating top quality hand-made products based on the principles of fair trade Approximate 2500 artisans Employ 5000 by 2015
LIJJAT PAPAD-Women Empowerment 4600 women employed Plans to employ 6000 by 2010
SELCO SOLAR INDIA-Sustainable energy solutions and services to under-served households and businesses. 95,000 villages covered Bring down the cost of solar equipment by 75% by 2012
UNLTD INDIA– Angel investor and incubator for social entrepreneurs Each of the projects has, on average, created 1.6 new jobs in the economy World where individuals take action to bring about positive social change
SKS MICROFINANCE-Small loans without collaterals 5.3 Million Customers Take Micro finance to every village
SUMINTER INDIA – Internationally certified organic agricultural produce Premium crop price to more than 7000 farmers Scale this model nationally
VORTEX ENGINEERING – Rural Solar Powered ATMs 750 ATM One ATM/ Village i.e 6,50,000 ATMs

The other notable change is the involvement of mainstream financial institutions in social entrepreneurship. Various venture capital firms are investing in for-profit entities with social objectives. Interestingly, specialized social investors provide capital, networking, marketing and business expertise to such ventures.

This trend was kick-started in the area of microfinance when Sequoia Capital invested in SKS Microfinance. Social venture funds measure their investments on social, environmental and the traditional financial returns. Acumen fund expects to make an impact on million people with every investment in a five-year time frame.  The fund measures returns in terms of financial, operational (internal processes and systems) and social impact (outcome and output). Output is number of people who are impacted and outcome is how it has affected them. For example, if 1,000 people have had access to clean drinking water, the investors also check if the rate of diarrhea has come down. More heartening is the fact that the mainstream venture capitalists are also recognizing this as a business opportunity. So far, VCs have invested $220 million in 77 social businesses in India. But there hasn’t been a single exit. In conventional commercial ventures, VCs work with a holding period of 3-5 years. In social businesses, the holding period is longer — typically, 6-8 years.

Funds Currently available:

Acumen Fund : It supports sustainable enterprises providing the poor with critical goods and services at an affordable price. Primary focus on healthcare, housing, water, energy and agriculture
Companies invested in: 12
Fund size: $40 million (approx)
VenturEast: It builds profitable businesses that cater to under-served markets. Focuses on meeting India’s domestic needs (primarily rural and semi-urban markets) by backing early-stage / rapid-growth businesses
Companies invested in Over 50 (including 25 social enterprises)
Fund size $250 million
Oasis Fund: It supports enterprises that develop innovative solutions that provide the poor with better access to critical goods and services. Invests mostly equity, with some debt. Investments generally range between $1 million to $6 million
Companies invested in 4
Fund size $30 million (still raising)
Song: It supports entrepreneurs in high-growth sectors like education and training, agriculture and food, healthcare, financial services, basic utilities (waste, water, rural telecom, affordable housing, etc) that are aligned with inclusive growth
Companies invested in None
Fund size $17 million
Aavishkaar India Micro Venture Capital: It creates sustainable change by increasing economic activity at the bottom of the pyramid and boosting the entrepreneurial spirit. Investments to date have focused heavily on the rural and agro technology sectors
Companies invested in 17
Fund size Rs 60 crore (approx $14 million)
Gray Matters Capital: It invests in the information, communication and technology space to bridge the urban-rural digital gap
Companies invested in 4
Fund size $12 million
Elevar Equity II: It creates market-based solutions for poverty eradication. Focuses on sectors like healthcare, education and information
Companies invested in 1 (another two in micro-finance ventures)
Fund size $40 million (additional fund-raising on)

The above figures simply state that there is an estimated $100 million (Rs 400 crore) chasing deals in India’s social enterprise space.

But there is a divide between those that have access to mainstream and/or commercial funds and those that rely on personal connections and grants/donations to raise money. The ratio is about 50/50.

Foreign grants: 8%
Domestic grants: 8%
Debt (credit loans): 11%
Government Funding: 3%
Charitable Organization: 5%
Bank Loan: 13%
Loan from Family and friends: 21%
Equity Investors: 21 %
Others: 10%

As per Beyond Profit survey, Forty-five percent of respondents obtained funds from commercial sources whereas 21% of respondents source their funds from personal connections such as family members and friends; another 21% rely on grants and donations from charitable organizations. Arranging finances for a social enterprise in India is still very difficult. And knowing in which sector to finance is even more difficult. In bar diagram mentioned below is a mention of profitable sectors and a trend which clearly states areas to divert funds.

Education: Sector with a track record of profit: The Education sector has shown a marked degree of financial stability and growth potential. There are two key elements. First, the sector represents the highest number of profit-making enterprises (38%) among others, and also has one of the lowest numbers of loss-making entities (24%). Second, the observation says that there is a good growth potential; 38% of education enterprises are breaking even — which means the number of profit-making enterprises in this sector could increase in the coming years.

Health: Sector with large growth potential: Although the sector currently produces a very small number of profit-making entities, it has the lowest percentage (13%) of loss-making enterprises. Most importantly, at 73%, the Health sector has the largest segment of break-even businesses. If/when these enterprises begin to turn a profit, the Health sector could sustain a multitude of successful, profit-making enterprises.

Rural Development: Sector to watch out for future growth: Despite the fact that the largest number of social enterprises are in this field, it is the biggest loss-making sector at the moment. However, Rural Development demonstrated the largest revenue increases last year, so there could be more surprises in store.

There are more enterprises that are loss-making (34%) than those earning a profit (25%). And 41% percent of enterprises are currently breaking even. If you look at the profitability by measure of years in operation, you can clearly see that making profit through social enterprise is no easy task.

It is true that the percentage of loss-making enterprises steadily goes down as the companies get older. But there is virtually no disparity in the number of profit-making entities across age categories. Many enterprises stop making losses as they grow older but do not begin to turn a profit; they merely start breaking even. Surprisingly, even after 11 years or more of operations, the percentage of profit-making enterprises is only 27%.

Social entrepreneurship in India is emerging primarily because of what the government has not been able to do. The government is very keen on promoting social entrepreneurship – not necessarily by funding it or by advising on it or enabling it. What they do do, is not disable it.

For example, in Mumbai alone, non-profit organizations educate more than 250,000 children on a daily basis. The government has not told these organizations not to do it. Whereas in some countries, when someone takes it into their own hands to start a facility for education or healthcare or empowerment, the government often puts in place barriers to prevent this from happening.

Our country does not have a homogenous people or geography, so the impact largely remains regional. With the current economic climate, it is very likely that social needs will increase and, consequently, the number of people committed to addressing them will increase. Definition of social entrepreneurship has changed over time. From corporate philanthropy to non-profit and now to self-sustainability, Social Entrepreneurship has evolved and will keep evolving with time and needs of the world.