Social entrepreneur

Social entrepreneur


Social entrepreneurs are enterprising individuals who apply business strategies to solve societal problems. The movement of social entrepreneurship has caught on in India and elsewhere, and many of the successful not-for-profit attempts have been chronicled on the web. Recently I stumbled upon a couple of websites which detail the dedication and unorthodox ways of these intrepid social entrepreneurs, especially in India. Let’s get to know at least a couple of these men and women who see the future in the present.

The Entrepreneur India website at has chronicled many emerging Indian Social Entrepreneurs. Those profiled include Kandalgaonkar of Vivam Agrotech, a solid waste management company that is functional in the areas of vermicompost, compost, biogas with electricity generation, carbon credits, municipal solid waste management and waste water treatment; Dr Tara Thiagarajan, a social entrepreneur who was a neuroscientist in the United States now runs the Madura Micro Finance Limited, a non-banking financial company.

Another well known person featured here includes Ms Rohini Nilekani, a social entrepreneur, associated with the renowned Akshara Foundation. Her own Argyam supports between 30 and 40 projects initiated by NGOs, across India.

The wikipedia at lists the leading social entrepreneurs of the years gone by as well as the present. The honours list includes these Indians — Ela Bhatt, Founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and the SEWA Cooperative Bank in Gujarat; Dr Abraham M George, Founder of The George Foundation (TGF); Dr Verghese Kurien, Founder of the AMUL Dairy Project; Bunker Roy, Founder of Barefoot College which promotes rural development through innovative education programmes; Thinlas Chorol, Founder of the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company; Nand Kishore Chaudhary, Founder of Jaipur rugs, which promotes rural development through capacity building of rural people in carpet weaving.

There are many others too about whom we can read on the web, like Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy and Thulasiraj D Ravilla who established Aravind Eye Hospital where lakhs of operations have been carried out, about two-thirds of them free! The Narayana Hrudayalaya Institute of Medical Sciences under the admirable leadership of Dr Devi Shetty carries out three dozen surgeries a day, among them 60% are carried out at a nominal cost or free of charge, and the Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE), run by S Rajagopalan and Svati Bhogle, which supports the development and launch of financially rewarding and environmentally-friendly methodologies into thriving enterprises. Please note that this list is not conclusive, surely!

If you wish to know how to become a social entrepreneur  you could begin by reading the article, ‘What it means to be a social entrepreneur in India’ hosted at Ms Unnati, a freelance writer, author and entrepreneur, in her article, among others, talks about the summit ‘Sociopreneurship 2010′ organised in Bangalore, last year.

To kindle your interest in social entrepreneurship, chech out web resources such as ILID (, EDII (, and NSEF ( ILID, Institute of Leadership and Institutional Development, founded by Dr G K Jayaram, is a not-for-profit organisation which caters to the leadership and institutional development needs of social organisations. ILID is an umbrella organisation that helps social entrepreneurs improve and innovate to deliver the best results possible to the poor and the disadvantaged.

The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI), offers a six months distance learning diploma in social entrepreneurship (DSE). The Distance Learning Diploma can help you learn and start your own for-profit social business and contribute towards social development of our country. There is no age limit to enrol for this course, and graduates in any discipline or technical diploma holders who have a strong desire to set up for-profit social enterprises can join this course.

An FAQ on this course can be browsed at Set up in 1983, the EDI is an autonomous body and not-for-profit institution, and is supported by India’s apex financial institutions, namely the IDBI Bank Ltd, IFCI Ltd. ICICI Ltd and State Bank of India (SBI).

Over the decades, the goal of EDI has been to spearhead the entrepreneurship movement throughout the nation with a belief that entrepreneurs need not necessarily be born, but can be developed through well-conceived and well-directed activities.  NSEF, National Social Entrepreneurship Forum, is a non-profit organisation founded by a team of alumni of Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India and New York University.

NSEF has undertaken social entrepreneurial activities in 30 academic institutes and is associated with more than 50 social enterprises with a mission to promote social entrepreneurship and inspire, educate and support new social entrepreneurs and create environments where they can succeed.