If you wish to be a social entrepreneur and bring about a positive change in society, that is a noble thought indeed. We provide some resources and guidance on how to go about it –
Balance one’s aspirations and reality – Becoming a social entrepreneur is not easy to say the least. There can be conflicts of personal goals and aspirations. Social ventures can also be profitable in today’s times. Although the monetary rewards that you might get if you put in the same efforts in a fully profit making organization could be much more, the satisfaction you get by creating value, creating livelihoods or enabling people to live better lives is unparalleled. You should go for it only if you are passionate about the social venture and are highly motivated to make it a success.
How to start? – If you have already identified the area which you want to work in, you can join an existing organization to get some experience. Once your plan is in place, you need to get people to work with you who have the same passion and energy levels like you for the venture and to make a difference to society. You need money for starting and running your venture. You should talk to people, organizations, banks who could help with funds. But for this you should have a proper business plan in place with objectives, approach, financial plan etc. This will enable them to understand the venture and make a decision about funding. Once you start the venture, market it in the media (social and other forms). This will help your venture get visibility and interested people can contribute in different ways.
Change in Existing Systems - Existing social systems have been in place for many years. Bringing a change in them is difficult. You will be fighting the system continuously and will have to work towards changing the mindset of people. You will have to think of innovative ways to bring about a change in the system. You will have to work with the community, governing and law enforcing bodies. It is a long but self-satisfying journey.
Resources for networking and guidance
You can check web resources like www.ilid.org and yourstory.in that can help in your venture.
- ILID (Institute of Leadership and Institutional Development) helps social entrepreneurs by providing consulting services to help kick start the social venture, adopt best practices and provide a platform to present their venture, its processes and results.
- yourstory.in has a special section dedicated to social entrepreneurship (http://social.yourstory.in/). There are news and views on social enterprise and profiles of social entrepreneurs and their ventures.
- You can acquire education to get into social entrepreneurship. EDI has a 6-month diploma in social entrepreneurship. It provides an opportunity to learn and start your own for-profit social business and contribute towards social development.
- Rashmi Bansal, entrepreneur and writer, has written a book –‘I Have a Dream’ on social entrepreneurs. It was the no. 1 non-fiction title as per AC Nielsen retail Bookscan (source Wikipedia). The book highlights the work of 20 individuals who work for the social good. It helps you to know that one can choose unconventional career paths and the book also has some advice for entrepreneuers.
I end this article with stories of two social enterprises that have made a difference to the society hoping that it will motivate you to take up your cause even more strongly.
- The healthcare scenario in India was and is a major cause of concern especially for the poor. Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy and Mr. Thulasiraj D Ravilla set up the Aravind Eye Hospital in 1976 as an alternate health care model. Aravind Eye hospitals have many branches and provide high quality medical treatment to rich and poor. The people who can afford the treatment pay the market price and many poor patients are given treatment/ surgeries free of charge or at minimized costs. Their medical care is thus cross subsidized.
- SELCO (Solar Electric Light Company) is a for profit social enterprise that aims to improve living standards in rural India. It was founded by Dr. Harish Hande and Mr. Neville Williams. They installed solar light systems in rural households to replace the stoves used for cooking which emit a lot of smoke and are hazardous.