Harnessing Social Entrepreneurship for Development

Social entrepreneurship, also known as altruistic entrepreneurship, is an approach essentially by start-ups and entrepreneurs, in which solutions are developed, funded, and provided with an intention of addressing social, cultural, or environmental issues. Social entrepreneurship typically attempts to further social goals in the form of voluntary work towards poverty abatement, health care and community development. 

Though not a new concept, social entrepreneurship has risen to new heights in the recent times and is being progressively adopted by organisations. Social entrepreneurs are either non-profit organisations, or they merge for-profit goals with social goals to generate a positive ‘return to society’. The social entrepreneurship definition incorporates a bottomline that extends beyond financial objectives to include social impact.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a more realistic concept than just a mere formality and organisations implementing CSR are now looking at greater roles for helping the society in a way that is beneficial for both the society and country’s economy at large. Social impact investing has gained pace in the pandemic world. In fact, India has proposed a stock exchange to boost such investing by retail investors as well.

In this post Covid era, it is essential for the recovery of economies to create an ecosystem that provides opportunities for individuals to bring about the change they believe in by creating resilient, inclusive, and innovative community groups. Other than volunteering, reducing the gender divide is of prime importance. For this, several start-ups are working to concretize women economic power by providing greater job opportunities for women and ensuring safe and welcoming workplaces to encourage more women to get employed and become financially independent.

In recent years, with a fine blend of idealism with pragmatism, social entrepreneurs are bringing about a ubiquitous transformation in many emerging economies. Social entrepreneurship has been a catalyst for change and has the potential to make a significant developmental impact. In this post pandemic era, the role of emerging key players such as impact investors, social business incubators, and donor agencies has become pivotal to create more sustainable and inclusive business models.

Such companies help in creating a meaningful life for every citizen, especially those who fall in the lower to lower-middle income group. The aim is to augment the effect of social impact by investing in such enterprises and by providing fiscal support to non-profits in areas such as digital society, education, emerging technologies, financial inclusion, governance & citizen engagement, and property rights.

There are many social entrepreneurship examples in India as a number of prominent organizations have accepted this form of doing business and are helping through social interventions. The areas that are being taken up include digital learning, remote healthcare, waste management, water challenges, and others. 

Social entrepreneurship ideas are taking root in large cities as well as smaller towns and rural areas. Entrepreneurs are working towards introducing sustainable farming that helps conserve resources through organic products and use of vermicomposting. Ideas such as water ATMs, bicycle sharing apps, helping ragpickers to boost their incomes, and other areas are being converted to make a social impact and change societies.

The Indian populace can greatly benefit from social entrepreneurship as it addresses issues at the bottom of the pyramid by offering services and products that are both affordable and easily accessible. With an increase in social entrepreneurship and responsible corporate citizenship, the need of the hour is for businesses to consider how to best synchronise communities and societies with their own objectives for growth. 

The Confederation of Indian Industry has been leading the mission of leveraging business acumen with social objectives by encouraging companies to incorporate and practise social responsibility across all dimensions. The CII Foundation set up in 2012 helps enterprises to deepen their engagement with society in areas such as disaster management, women empowerment, serving people with disabilities, and child services, among others. 

Today, while the world is reeling from the effects of the pandemic, the need of the hour is to maximize corporate social responsibility and expand social entrepreneurship for a better route to development.



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