Sam Pitroda, advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on public information infrastructure and innovations on Saturday called for social innovations to solve the problems of the poor.
Pitroda, who opened the first-ever Action For India Forum 2012, a meet of 100 young social innovators here said India is in a unique position to solve the problems of the poor as it has the largest number of poor and a huge amount of talent to address the challenges faced by them.
The meet focuses on how technology can make social enterprises scale their operations more effectively. “There is a lot of talent solving the problems of the rich. Innovations are needed to solve the problem of the poor,” Pitroda said.
“To support social entrepreneurs set up new business models to bring about change, efforts are underway to increase the corpus of National Innovation Fund, as soon as it collects Rs 500 crore, including Rs 100 crore announced by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,” said Sam Pitroda. The fund is expected to be operational by June-July this year.
More than 100 young social innovators, under the age of 40, who have made significant impact with their innovations in the field of agriculture, education, energy, livelihoods and healtcare, whose work has impacted lives at the bottom of the pyramid by providing critical resources, participated in the event.
Pitroda remarked that social innovations will be driven by young innovators from the bottom (of the pyramid) as the top was not in tune with the requirements of the poor.
Some of the most celebrated social innovators of the country shared their challenges and lessons in scaling up to galvanise 100 Young Social Innovators to discover how technology can help social enterprises get more pervasive in coverage and impact.
Some of the achievers who shared their experiences included Chanchalapathi Dasa, Trustee of Akshaya Patra Foundation that feeds 1.3 million mid-day meals daily; Prableen Sabhhaney from Fabindia, the venture that made 15,000+ mini entrepreneurs out of weavers and artisans, Self-Help Group pioneer Anish Pradhan from Pradan, pioneers in the promotion of Self-Help Groups that covers nearly 2,00,000 rural poor women in eight states who have mobilised a total savings of Rs 50 crore; Sushmita Ghosh, President Emeritus, Ashoka, the world’s working community of nearly 3,000 leading social entrepreneurs, K Thiagarajan from Agastya, the largest science education programme in schools and bureaucrats from Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana which has over 90 million active smart cards and more than 1.5 million people already availed treatment at various hospitals.
The forum discussed technological and other challenges faced by social innovators in sectors like agriculture, education, healthcare, energy and livelihood.