High-level Participation Points to a Bright Future for Social Entrepreneurship in India
'Large corporate houses are now tracking new ideas as their investments will win them public trust'
As innovation and entrepreneurship are rapidly changing the face of business, social entrepreneurship is emerging as an agent for change in the society.
Social entrepreneurs are coming up with new solutions to newer and complicated social problems and are implementing them on a large scale.
Unlike countries like the UK, Italy, Korea and Singapore, where the agenda is being driven by the government and large private enterprises (especially Korea), India's journey into the world of social entrepreneurship has been led by the vision and energy of outstanding individuals.
Despite India's influence on the global economy and innovation sector, the country's public and private sectors continue to work on challenges to bring in the nation's almost 180 million residents, currently under the poverty line, to a healthy and safe way of life.
The ground realities of running a social enterprise continue to remain intimidating, but high-level of participation from various domains are pointing to a bright future of India's social entrepreneurship scene.
Entrepreneur India got in touch with Kiran Verma, Founder of Simply Blood, a virtual blood donation platform, to assess the opportunities and challenges of the sector.
According to Verma, there are hundreds or thousands of problems related to people around us, which cannot be solved overnight by the government or system.
That is where a social entrepreneur sees an opportunity to take initiative and solve the issue. Verma and his team realized that more than 38,000 people need blood in India, but only 1/3 of the count actually get it.
Social Entrepreneurs are Innovators Who Bring in Change
"Social entrepreneurs are the people who see the change within the society. Most of them might have faced setback or have gone through some real-life challenges, which forced them to start their social entrepreneurship journey. Problems faced due to lack of ideas or inability to resolve tricky issues push a social entrepreneur to think anew. This makes them innovators. Continuous improvement and regular assessment ensure the success of a social start-up or social entrepreneurs," he said.
"It's very important for a social entrepreneur to understand that the step taken is not a casual way forward. It needs commitment, conviction, dedication, empathy, self-motivation, focus and mostly patience. It takes time for people to understand and believe in your idea. In many cases, people quit early just because they don't get what they expected before starting," added Verma.
Scalability is Imperative as Benefits Should reach Masses
"Social entrepreneurship," said Verma, "has the potential to provide social and environmental solutions throughout the business sector." "But for that, we need to find a whole new way to it. It so happens that when you are generating money out of your venture, there is a high possibility that you may get distracted from your main motto. The main purpose of the initiative should be intact. Scaling is anyway needed because any good initiative should benefit the largest possible segment of the public," he opined.
Social Entrepreneurship in India Deserves Better Recognition
Verma maintained that social entrepreneurship in India is not an easy task. "If we see the start-up culture, most of the people talk about the funds raised, sustainability of the business, profits in books, potential to become a Unicorn etc (which is fine). But, there are a few initiatives that have been created for a larger benefit. We often tend to ignore the social entrepreneurs," he lamented.
"Also, creating and running a platform, which is not for profit, is a tough task owing to the lack of credibility, funds, and difficulties in getting the right team. VCs, Angel investors do not invest in such ventures as there is no ROI. Taking loan is also not viable due to repayment issues. Very few options are there to get funding like Government Aid (which takes a lot of time), or else Crowd funding. However, things are changing over the past couple of years, especially after the enactment of the CSR Act. Large corporate houses are now tracking new ideas as their investments are going to win them public trust and add credibility," added the Delhi-based "youngpreneur'.
Collective Effort Needed
He said the key to promoting any social enterprise is the participation of people. "All the stakeholders should be engaged to ensure that the right message is spread across the society. Once aware, people, who are capable of helping, will surely come to support the cause. Sustaining a nonprofit organization is very difficult and so getting sustainability is also very important," notified the 32-year-old social entrepreneur.