Education

Social Entrepreneurs– The Innovative Change Makers

A.P.J Abdul Kalam said “All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents”. These are words of wisdom that now seem to explain the current start-up industry of India that is bubbling with energy of young innovators, entrepreneurs and path breakers. Youth today is coming up with smart, resourceful and above all, ‘out of the box’ ideas to solve everyday problems. When these entrepreneurs work to create a social impact in the society through their innovations, either products or services, is when they transcend to becoming social entrepreneurs.

They do incur profits, but the measure of their success is not the numbers on their balance sheet but the impact that they create. The Government has introduced CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) with the very idea that every company has a responsibility to give back to the community. Sudha Murthy, a celebrated writer, philanthropist and social worker has created many employment opportunities in rural India through the CSR initiatives of Infosys Pvt. Ltd. CSR in India is a result of the 2013 Companies Act. India is one of the few countries in the world to have a dedicated CSR act. In fact, it is the first to have brought about a legislation to implement CSR activities, followed by United Kingdom. The amendment notified in the Schedule VII of the Companies Act advocates that those companies with a net worth of US$73 million (Rs 4.96 billion) or more, or an annual turnover of US$146 million (Rs 9.92 billion) or more, or a net profit of US$732,654 (Rs 50 million) or more during a financial year, shall earmark 2 percent of average net profits of three years towards CSR. This prompts companies to not just create employment in the urban areas but also establish a connect with the rural areas while fulfilling their ‘responsibility’.

There have been various success stories with regard to CSR. Sudha Murthy has contributed crores of rupees, which is a significant 2% of their profits into building employment, training and self-sustaining cottage industries for women in rural villages. Being a widely popular author too, in her work ‘Wise & Otherwise’ she states, “Vision without action is merely a dream; action without vision is merely passing time; but vision and action together can change the world.” Raj Janagam, CEO and Co-founder of Surge Impact, a start-up accelerator for social enterprises in Telangana, shares “Change is not what we seek but what we persist to build”. His statement reinstates the vision of social entrepreneurs and the concept of impact over profits.

Telangana, is now building an efficient start-up ecosystem through the T-hub initiative. T-Hub is the perfect incubator for innovative ideas that have potential for real change. Encouraging college students to stakeholders, they strive to develop an environment of equality and adaptation. It is also a center for numerous workshops and inspiring talks. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO was also all-praise for the hub and shared in one of his interactions, “There are three points to success — concept, capability, culture. Learn more from day one…chase after your concept or idea. Improve your capability to chase the idea…Curate the culture“.

Telangana government has recently also launched T-Social Impact Group. Their website gives a detailed vision as follows- “To build an inclusive ecosystem of government bodies, private sector companies, social impact organisations and citizens of Telangana, with a shared goal of mobilising resources for the development of people, community and the environment.” Closely working with numerous social enterprises as well as corporate companies under CSR, they lead many projects that are truly bringing about change. A few of them are Digitizing MSMEs ( micro, small, medium enterprises) , Streeswabhimaan (Biodegradable sanitary napkin units), Smart Bangles for pregnant women etc.

These projects are definitely not about the funding received or the company involved, but about the problems solved and the significant change in life that is harboured. It proves that cordial relationship between government and companies can lead to a wonderful ripple effect. With government’s database and entrepreneurs’ innovation, a lot of problems ranging from farming to lack of training can easily be addressed. It is all a matter of choice and also, a vision. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Picture Courtesy- Portal Liberal

 



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