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Thorny Issues Every Social Entrepreneur In India Has To Tackle Social enterprises usually work in an environment that doesn't support them, and sometimes it is outright hostile.

By Nidhi Singh

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Social entrepreneurship is steadily growing popular in India and has caught the attention of many investors. Social entrepreneurs come up with some of the best solutions for a wide range of issues. They may not always help you find the best ways to make huge profit margins, but their sincere approach and positive outlook always prove fruitful for the society's growth.

Vat Vrikshya (VV) is a social enterprise comprising people from diverse backgrounds, including those who are determined to make others' lives better by being the agents of change.

Founder Vikash Das said the enterprise is not solely about a pack privileged folks helping out less-privileged people, but it is also about realizing that we all belong to one global community where we can help each other.

Vat Vrikshya is a community-owned company of over a thousand tribal women from the remote corners of Eastern India. The enterprise makes a seed donation of Rs 3,000 to women members of every family in the villages it work. To this, the families add their own contributions. The company's one of the key aims is to connect village women with banks and help them access loans. In a way, it is also promoting the government's vision of digital economy.

The company is crippled by problems galore like language barrier, cultural differences, geographical isolation, societal pressure and many more, said its founder.

"To begin with, my family and friends were very upset with the fact that I was leaving my high-paying job and settling down in a remote village. They thought that something was wrong with me because I wanted to live like a poor to help the poor. It was not long before they figured what the business model was and how effective it was and they gave in," he said while elucidating two key issues that one must keep in mind before becoming a social entrepreneur.

Work Hard And Smart

One often gets to hear, "work smarter not harder". That is the ultimate motto one should adopt, he said and advised, "Set your goals smartly and plan how to achieve them."

"I don't see why any logical person wouldn't choose to do both. In fact, this is the way to success. To be truly effective, one must do them both. But, I am against the idea that smart work is more important than hard work," he added.

Vikash believes that one must master his/her basics to work smart and hard work is the foundation of any great organization.

"One cannot deny the fact that in order to be successful in the long run, you have to put long hours into work. You have to start early and to stay up late," he added.

Social Enterprises' Stories Are Also About Struggles And Frustrations

Social enterprises usually operate in an environment that doesn't support them, and sometimes it is outright hostile.

"I strongly believe social entrepreneurship can function smoothly if the right eco-system is provided. Debt, which is of great use to entrepreneurs, is a flawed area in India. It's not easy to provide debt unless you're a bank or non-banking financial company. Many of the players in the social entrepreneurship support space can't offer this service. Another gap is flexible financing," he said adding, "There is no single source that can provide a mix of different forms of capital. If you're a social venture with both — a for-profit as well as non-profit element — you may need to go to different sources for financing like foundations offering grants, investors for equity and even individuals, who can provide money. Each of them have different expectations."

This forces early-stage entrepreneurs to run after different incentives and outcomes simultaneously.

He further added that the landscape of social enterprise is strewn with tales of struggle and frustration. And yet, only a few solutions have achieved impressive results. "These solutions have been able to improve lives of millions and will continue to be engine of change with innovative business models," he added.

Nidhi Singh

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

A self confessed Bollywood Lover, Travel junkie and Food Evangelist.I like travelling and I believe it is very important to take ones mind off the daily monotony .

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