Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things, and powerful things at that. ‘When mixed with a definite purpose it can be translated into riches’, said Napoleon. Centuries ago he even explained a concept which has gained popularity in India today. Social business - a relatively new term to India means a non-loss, non-dividend Company designed to address a social objective.
It is a cause-driven business. In a social business, the investors or owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but they cannot take any dividend beyond that point. The purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, since no personal monetary gain is desired by the investors. India being a developing country saw a slow start in the sector of social business. However since the past two decades India has seen an upsurge of organisations emerging in this realm. Not only Indians but enterprises from all over the world are investing in the social business sector in India.
This article will introduce you to seven inspiring social businesses in India. Only a fraction of the thousands that exist but it’s a start nonetheless. The minds behind these endeavours understood that being rich is easy but making others rich along with your own growth is the challenge that only great entrepreneurs can take.
I. Social Access
This is a new initiative started by two inspiring women, Lynn De Souza and Meenakshi Menon. With powerful experience in both the media and non-profit fields, the company creates and executes communication strategies for brands and causes that speak to each other and deliver real, measured value to beneficiaries targeted, at the grass root level. This is a social business that reaches out to various NGOs. Social Access with its resource tied up with the Centre for the Advancement of Philanthropy, iVolunteer , Dalberg Consulting and proposed partnership arrangements with leading specialist organisations such as Fenton Consulting , and Mofilm, the world’s leading crowdsourcing site which will enable Social Access’s team of in-house strategists, creative and social media experts to empower NGO’s with well planned and executed campaigns supported by the corporate sector.
II. NIIT’s Hole In The Wall
This is a unique concept where NIIT professors decided to run a research programme by helping underprivileged children. The founders of this project Rajendra Pawar and his colleague installed some computers loaded with educational games in some walls near poor localities. This initiative is popular in Delhi and the children clamour to try their hand at the computers. The reaction and progress of these children are recorded by small cameras installed near these computers. Pawar says, “This is one area where children know more than their parents. They teach each other and lear in the process. We started with a humble research and now this is catering thousands of children in Delhi.” This initiative inspired the book ‘Q & A’ which inspired the film Slumdog Millionaire. Suffice to say that anyone associated with this effort has gained a lot.
III. Kautilya Phytoextracts
The basic idea behind the company was to start a social enterprise aimed at making business a medium for rural development, encourage other entrepreneurs to return to rural India and focus their attention on rural development. The company’s business is to process and sell medicinal plants or herbs and aromatic oils. It sources the raw material through contract sharing agreements with farmers, chiefly in Bihar and North Bengal. Some of its clients for herbs include Dabur and Sami Labs, and ITC for herbal mosquito repellants and incense sticks. It encourages farmers to use waste or arid land that doesn’t receive sufficient water to grow medicinal plants, which can be easily cultivated due to their wild properties.
Nidan organises informal workers into legal entities such as associations, cooperatives, Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and even small businesses, thus, greatly increasing their bargaining power vis-à-vis the state and the private sector. Nidan further acts like an umbrella, under which, the various entities are nurtured to be able to access financial services (savings, loans, insurance, pension, etc.), legal services and education for members’ children. Nidan has promoted twenty institutions in all, including the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), a member-based organization now active in twenty two states, as well as collective enterprises of rag pickers, jute workers, craftsperson’s, home-based workers, rural landless workers, and the like. The workers own these institutions and remain at the forefront of all negotiations and decision-making. The average incubation period for a Nidan institution to become independent and achieve sustainability is roughly seven years.
V. UnLtd. India
UnLtd India is an incubator for social entrepreneurs. They engage all investors and support organisations, and offer entrepreneurs a complete ecosystem of seed funding, incubation support and co-working space with which to launch their ventures.They believe in having faith that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
VI. Mirakle couriers
Their back office is run by 20 hard working deaf women with learnt-by-doing knowledge in data entry and manipulation, tracking and scanning, sorting and other branch operations. On the field we have a team 44 talented male deaf courier agents that navigate the complex lanes of Mumbai. They travel on public transport, avoiding traffic and remaining conscious of the environment.Founded by Dhruv Lakra Mirakle Couriers is a unique enterprise that hires only the hearing impaired to help them stand on their feet.
VII. Aajeevika Bureau
It offers solutions , security and support to rural migrants. Aajeevika Bureau’s vision is to become a leading agency working to ensure secure and dignified lives of communities dependent on migration and labour. To provide lasting solutions to economic and socio-legal problems of migrant workers -directly as well as through partners - by creating replicable models offering services and security at both source and destination.
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