Social entrepreneurship should focus more on the entrepreneur than the enterprise

20 December 2016

Jaivir Singh, Vice-Chairman, PwC India Foundation

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India's growth story over the past decade has changed its narrative. The start-up and entrepreneurship wave in the country has ushered in a new promise—the freedom to create your own market. Nowhere does this hold truer than when it comes to business, where bigger is always better. Fixations on topline revenue growth, employee headcount, office locations, are not the only yardsticks of business success any more.

'Social impact' is a new dimension and 'social enterprises' are a new form of business model solving the most crucial societal problems that society lives with every day. Social entrepreneurs usually solve complex social problems by finding a solution that usher in a business model and market.

Their ideas mostly stem from their personal experiences, their observations of the socio-economic-cultural aspects of their surroundings and a passion to change the status quo. However, in the current landscape, such entrepreneurs are often working in isolation and aren’t exposed to an ecosystem that can hone their skills, nurture their vision and offer a support system during challenging times.

That’s where institutions like the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) come in.

SSE India believes that each individual has the capacity to be remarkable and transform communities in which they’d like to operate in. By mobilising the experience of enterprising people who have identified an unmet social need, SSE addresses their issue by supporting their entrepreneurial approaches to create a sustainable solution.

PwC and the SSE have worked together for over seven years in the UK. The partnership has strengthened both organisations in their quest to encourage people to enter this space. Realising the importance of such an initiative, PwC—using the strength of its global network—has supported SSE to enter a highly vibrant developing market. SSE India is a result of this effort.

While the social enterprise ecosystem is evolving in India with support organisations providing direct, indirect, financial and advisory assistance to social enterprises, there is a gap for a learning programme that focusses on the entrepreneur. This is where SSE India’s flagship ‘Social Start-Up’ Fellowship Programme harnesses the potential of such passionate individuals.

SSE’s purpose in India is to address issues of inequality, exclusion and social justice by helping individuals use entrepreneurship to contribute to a better society. We identify people who have a workable idea to tackle a specific social issue and who demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics. Over a nine-month period we support such individuals to advance their leadership, business and soft skills.

SSE India's founding cohort includes 16 fellowship participants who went through a rigorous action-learning programme, enabling an ecosystem for each one to work on their social enterprise. Their ideas provide solutions in a gamut of areas—health, water, sanitation, livelihood, organic farming and renewable energy. These cover rural, peri-urban and urban areas, focussing on farmers, child labourers, migrants, Dalits, slum population and indigenous people.

The culmination of their dedication and hard work was seen at the SSE Fellowship programme on 15 December 2016 during their graduation ceremony. Many of these ideas are now live projects and also registered organisations driving the social change they have envisioned for an inclusive and better India.

We need to acknowledge that social impact must start with an individual, but to create sustainable futures for society at large, the collective is crucial.

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Very Important post for entrepreneur. Thanks for sharing the information in so easily.

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