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What is a Social Entrepreneur? Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to societys most pressing social problems.

They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps. Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field. They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else. Each social entrepreneur presents ideas that are user-friendly, understandable, ethical, and engage widespread support in order to maximize the number of local people that will stand up, seize their idea, and implement with it. In other words, every leading social entrepreneur is a mass recruiter of local changemakersa role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything. Over the past two decades, the citizen sector has discovered what the business sector learned long ago: There is nothing as powerful as a new idea in the hands of a first-class entrepreneur. Why "Social" Entrepreneur? Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better. While a business entrepreneur might create entirely new industries, a social entrepreneur comes up with new solutions to social problems and then implements them on a large scale. What Social Enterprise Is Not Social enterprise is not about balancing the "double bottom lines" of profit and social impact, as though they are equally important. The real bottom line for a social enterprise, the goal by which its success should ultimately be evaluated, is its social (or environmental) impact, and being profitable (or at least financially sustainable) is the entirely necessary means to that end. Of course, there can be no social mission without money, but the first goal is mission. Social enterprise is not the exclusive domain of nonprofits . While many nonprofits have been - and continue to be - leaders in the social enterprise movement, social enterprise need not be limited to nonprofits. Moreover, simply being owned by a nonprofit is not sufficient to make a business a social enterprise. The enterprise must have as its overarching purpose the amelioration of social and/or environmental issues. Social enterprise is not just another fundraising strategy for nonprofits - While it's possible for a social enterprise that is owned by a nonprofit to generate funds to support the operation of that nonprofit, the generation of those funds is secondary to the direct impact it has on social or environmental issues. Social enterprise is not about "saving" the nonprofit sector - While social enterprise has great potential for enhancing the vitality and sustainability of the nonprofit sector, that potential impact is secondary to its real purpose - helping (directly, through the operation of the business) to make the world a better place. When Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize awardee and founder of Grameen Bank, was contacted by the Nobel Foundation for the customary winner interview, he remarked, ...poverty is an artificial creation. It doesnt belong to human civilisation, and we can change that, we can make people come out of poverty . The only thing we have to do is to redesign our institutions and policies. Thats what social entrepreneurship is about: creating business models revolving around low-cost products and services to resolve social inequities. And the realisation that social progress and profit arent mutually exclusive has led to many social ventures taking root in India as well. Examples of successful social projects like Amul or SEWA were few and far between. However, with the slowdown taking the shine off urban, higher-income target markets, organisations focusing on bottom of the pyramid audiences have become a reality. But the days of easy funding are over. Given the employment squeeze, it would be natural for aspiring social entrepreneurs to stick to their secure jobs instead. Surprisingly, they continue to launch social enterprises with a vengeance. In May 2008, 27-year old Rajnish Sinha and his IIM-Kozhikode batchmate Siva Cotipalli started Bangalore-based DhanaX. A fascination with microfinance and the idea of clubbing it with person to

person (P2P) lending led them to quit their jobs to launch DhanaX, a platform where people contribute small amounts online as loans. NGOs take up the task of disbursing these loans to needy communities in their areas of operation. Interest is charged at 24%, of which DhanaX keeps approximately 6%. This model has worked in other countries as well. So far, DhanaX has helped its four partner NGOs acquire loans of Rs 20 lakh. While yet to recover their initial investment of Rs 25 lakh, Sinha is confident of success. In future, we may partner with wealth management companies or treasury departments of large corporations to keep the pipeline running, he says. Richa Pandey, a marketing MBA, was a media sales professional in New Delhi for eight years. But her calling was rural India, partly because of her rootsher grandfather was a farmer in Uttar Pradesh. The retail and BPO sectors were creating job opportunities in a big way. I zeroed in on vocational training for rural youth in these areas, Pandey recalls. In October 2007, she approached the Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI) at IIT-Madras with a business plan outline. The RTBI platform helped add magnitude to my plan, Pandey says, adding, Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala assisted me in launching a pilot programme in three districts of Tamil Nadu under the banner of eJeevika. Around the same time, she got a lucrative offer to head the marketing division of a large media firm. Pandey turned it down and continued focusing on designing course content and online training programmes in three areas: retail sales, data entry and security services. Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy and Thulasiraj D Ravilla established Aravind Eye Hospital in 1976. Till date, it has treated more than 2.3 million outpatients and carried out more than 2.7 lakh operations in 2006-07, about two-thirds of them free. Barefoot College, started by Bunker Roy in 1972, has made innumerable school dropouts in villages into barefoot doctors, engineers, architects, teachers, designers and communicators. Self-Employed Womens Association (SEWA) started by Ela Bhatt in 1972 provides financial, health, insurance, legal, childcare, vocational and educational services to poor self-employed women, who comprise its members. Bhartiya Samruddhi Investments & Consulting Services (BASIX) started by Vijay Mahajan is the first microfinance project to lend to the poor. Narayana Hrudayalaya Institute of Medical Sciences and its network of hospitals run by Devi Shetty perform about three dozen surgeries a day. Of these, 60% are carried out at nominal cost or free of charge. Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) run by S Rajagopalan and Svati Bhogle supports the development of financially rewarding and environmentally-friendly methods invented by leading research institutions into thriving enterprises. eJeevika subjects candidates to psychometric tests to determine where theyd fit in best and trains them accordingly. But Pandeys chosen path hasnt been easy. She currently doesnt take home a salary, preferring instead to plough everything back into the business. In the past year, eJeevika trained 160 people, is on the verge of signing up four BPOs as partners and is growing both in terms of scale and size, aiming to train 1,500 people by March-end. If the slowdown has affected companies like ours, Im yet to see evidence of it, she says, Our team consists of eight highly-experienced people and we still get enquiries from people who want to work with us. Experts like Kallol Borah, CEO, Headstart Foundation, feel that social-focus startups will continue to thrive in India. Bringing low-cost services such as banking, healthcare, finance, etc. to underprivileged sections of society is definitely a big opportunity as well as a necessity. Rural, smalltown and lower-income consumers constitute a large market waiting to be tapped, but it is necessary for social entrepreneurs to get past language, literacy and geographical barriers. The current environment has also complicated the mix. Adrienne Villani, associate at Intellectual Capital Advisory Services (Intellecap), is cautious, No market is immune to the global meltdown. I would think that people earning between 2-12 dollars a day will indeed be affected. If that is true,

companies working for this block of the pyramid would be affected as well. The answer may well lie in technology. Hi-tech social startups are banking on smart models to bring services to people at affordable costs. An indifferent government and an inefficient bureaucracy have ensured the poorer strata of society remain deprived of the benefits of development. They are still bogged down by unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and lack of medical facilities. But with the arrival of social entrepreneurship all that is set to change.