Social Entrepreneurship
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Computer Science Clay
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25-02-2009, 12:05 AM

Social Entrepreneurship

When multinational companies were setting up expensive health care facilities across the world, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy resolved to do something for the poor. He set up the Aravind Eye Care Hospital at Madurai, which offers the best facilities at rock bottom prices. Since its inception, Aravind has given sight to more than one million people in India. Dr. Venkataswamy may not run a business, but it is important to note that Aravind,s surgeons are so productive that the hospital has a gross profit margin of 40%, despite the fact that 70% patients pay nothing or close to nothing, and that the hospital does not depend on donations. Arvind evolved an eye surgery technique that increases a surgeon's productivity by a factor of 10. This business model ensures that millions of poor, visually-impaired people can be operated for free or nearly free, and that the hospital still makes 40 percent operating profit. It does 2, 00,000 cataract surgeries a year, making it the largest ophthalmology institution in the world.

Prof. Mohammed Yunus of Bangladesh set up the Grameen Bank, which pioneered the concept of giving micro loans to the people below poverty line. These micro loans have made a big impact in helping the poor people start their own business and uplift themselves from the clutches of poverty. The bank has till now helped 7000 micro-lenders with 25 million clients world wide. In this process, Grameen Bank has made healthy margins for themselves and also contributed to the national economic growth in a big way. This Chittagong University economics professor won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He first lent $27 to a few poor farmers in 1976, now the Bank has 2422 branches with aggregate loans of more than $6.8 billion.

Ela R. Bhatt established Self Employed Women's Association in Gujrat with the formation of women groupand cooperatives. Now SEWA has 8000 members and a SEWA Bank of which members and employees are women. Many other women social entrepreneurs have demonstrated their social activism through contribution in society. Dr. Ragini Prem always worked with Prem Bhai as co-worker in Banvasi Seva Ashram and is now managing the programems of the Ashram in the tribal dominated areas of Sonebhadra (UP). Medha Patkar, the Magsasay Awardee, always worked for the cause of common people. She led Narmada Bachao Andolan and other activism related organizations. Writer turned social activist Arundhati Roy has always fought for the cause of displaced community. Vandana Shiva established Navadanya and worked towards environment consciousness efforts. Spiritual mothers like Maa Amritandai have awakened their followers in behaviour modification, spiritualism and mass education. Arun Roy's efforts in the enactment of Rights to Information Act will be remembered always.

Rajendra Singh of Tarun Bharat Sangh decided to work for the improvement in the drought prone area of Rajsthan. He undertook massive work on water related infrastructure development with the cooperation of local community. He was awarded with Roman Magsasay Award for his contributions in community work.

The social entrepreneurship inspires a person or group to work for the betterment of community. Social entrepreneurship can be successful if it had a mix of creativity and innovation. A distinction can be made between creativity and innovation. The term creativity usually refers to the ability and power to develop new ideas. Innovation, on the other hand, usually means the use of these ideas. Creative process is generally consists of (1) unconscious scanning (2) intuition (3) insight and (4) logical formulation.

Eminent scientist and former chairman of the University Grants Commission Professor Yash Pal said that Indian industry and the education system lacked "creativity" and did not promote innovations that happen at local level within the country. Innovations happen in India too. He applauded National Innovation Foundation for scouting more than 51,000 innovations during the past five years from over 400 different places of which 15 technologies have been commercialized. He said that practical knowledge was not imparted to the students who were tested only on their cramming or memorizing skills, students are taught from some text-books and are not to think out of it. Creativity is not stressed in the curriculum and so the students do not think differently. Ability to think differently is an important factor that leads to future innovations.

The 21st century favours knowledge, ideas and creativity. This century is about young, restless minds pushing the digital age forward. This will require creative companies, quality educational institutions, and ideas pouring forth in all forms and an innovation system. Knowledge remains key to India's position in the world. IT services, jewelry, pharmaceuticals, handicrafts have powered India's recent economic performance. As in the past, our soft infrastructure (creativity, ideas and open borders) far exceeds our hard infrastructure (highways, ports, power and so on) in global competitiveness.

In Trichhirapalli, J.K. Tripathy led the transformation of the police force from an image of 'extortionist' to 'anna' (elder brother). Subsequently, the crime rate dropped by 40 percent “ and that too in a communally sensitive town. With an innovative concept called 'community policing', wherein a group of four policemen took ownership for the law and order of a community, was adopted. They won their trust by engaging with them proactively, and preventing law and order problems rather than merely, reacting to them. Now 'community policing' is being exercised everywhere. Tripathy demonstrated that the real issue is absence of creative leadership and the capacity to lead change.

India's voluntary sector has been known for its creativity and innovation. Innovative and creative efforts have been recognized from time to time. Now, with this result few programmes are being implemented exclusively by NGOs. People living in islands dotting Assam's Brahmaputra river no longer worry about isolation as a hospital floats up to them at least twice a month to check on their health. Akha “ a boat with medical personnel and supplies “ is a unique door-to-door service for the poor inhabitants of the state's islands. Akha, which means 'hope' in Assamese, is the brainchild of the Association for India's Development (AID) and Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES). The NGO was sensitive to the vulnerability of those who lived in the rural islands, for away from hospitals and communication. The boat has space for on-board treatment of basic health problems and also provides referral services. It accommodates health professionals and can be turned into a training centre. This was funded by prize money from a World Bank competition won by C-NES volunteers and a group of grass-root boat-builders in 2004. With the India Country-level Development Market Place award of $20,000 (Rs. 9,00,000), volunteers could realize their dream of treating the unreachable under-privileged sections. This creative thought is a true and successful example of public-private partnership under which Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh provides the medical facilitation while district administration supplies the fuel for vessel.

The Nehru Gram Bharati University has taken a leap in being social entrepreneurship centre. From organizing farmer's training, training of rural women on entrepreneurship, health camps on public-private partnership and cloth donation programme to imparting formal higher education to youths in different disciplines, the university embarked on innovation and creativity.
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Social Entrepreneurship

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What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is all about recognizing the social problems and achieving a social change by employing entrepreneurial principles, processes and operations. It is all about making a research to completely define a particular social problem and then organizing, creating and managing a social venture to attain the desired change. The change may or may not include a thorough elimination of a social problem. It may be a lifetime process focusing on the improvement of the existing circumstances.
While a general and common business entrepreneurship means taking a lead to open up a new business or diversifying the existing business, social entrepreneurship mainly focuses on creating social capital without measuring the performance in profit or return in monetary terms. The entrepreneurs in this field are associated with non-profit sectors and organizations. But this does not eliminate the need of making profit. After all entrepreneurs need capital to carry on with the process and bring a positive change in the society.

History of Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is a kind of entrepreneurship initiative that aims at taking up a social problem for bringing about a transformation in the same. The person who takes up the challenge is called a social entrepreneur and he / she uses principle of entrepreneurship with the intent of creating social capital and not being essentially profit centered.
The aim of social entrepreneurship is to promote the cause of social and environmental goals that have an impact in either in the present or the times to come. Such entrepreneurs are generally a part of or associated in some way with some nonprofit organisations (NGO’s). Although profit making is also as aspect of this concept but it may not be the sole purpose of the organisation.
Andrew Mawson worked extensively upon the concept of social entrepreneurship and
extended the same to bring about reform in the community structure. He also laid the foundation of the Bow center in east London. For this he was conferred upon the peerage of Lord Mawson and he works for developing partnerships for regeneration work initiated by him.

Who is a Social Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are people who venture into new areas primarily with intent of making profit out of the same. Of course there they socially responsible also and have the obligation of contributing to the well being of the society in which they operate; but this obligation is secondary. In social entrepreneurship this obligation of contribution to social well being is primary and in a way profit takes a back seat or is more or less secondary but essential to the survival!
A social entrepreneur is somebody who takes up a pressing social problem and meets it with an innovative or path breaking solution. Since profit making is a secondary objective, therefore they are people who are passionate and determined about what they do. They possess a very high level of motivation and are visionaries who aim at bringing about a change in the way things are.
By definition social entrepreneurs are great people recruiters who present their ideas or solutions in a way that many people, who are either part of the problem or surrounding it, recognise a need for change and get onboard the change bandwagon. Thus mobilizing the masses for bringing about change is a hallmark of a social entrepreneur.

Social Enterprises around the World

With an aim to generate income if not wealth, the social enterprises come up with innovative as well as people-friendly solutions to bring a positive change in the society. What makes them different from the corporate world is their basic aim; they work for the people who live below poverty line and offer flexible working environment to people. Although the concept of social entrepreneurship has been around since 1960s and is promoted by many individuals but the establishment of The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh was the first instance where the concept was thoroughly used. Under the leadership of Muhammad Yunus, it tried to address the issue of people living below poverty line and gradually has evolved as a strong identity.
Social enterprise is not a new concept but it started becoming popular only in 1960s. There may be different rules and regulations for social enterprises around the world but their basic concept remains the same. Their ultimate aim is to serve the people of the society who are at the bottom of the pyramid. In Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus incorporated the Grameen Bank, a microfinance organization that makes small loans to people living in rural areas without requiring collateral. The bank does not believe in charity but in offering help to people as an initiative to break through the poverty cycle.

What is Social Capital?

Social Capital is a concept that aims at emphasizing the importance of social contacts between groups and within groups. It primarily means that social networks have a value associated and that they are not always detrimental in nature as previously thought of.
The concept of social capital also stresses that social networks lead to increased productivity in individuals, teams and organizations. This increased productivity can be both financial and otherwise. This means that social contacts can lead to increase in
confidence, fulfillment by fostering positive relationships. The essence being that just like any other capital form (human, physical, financial) social capital is also important and beneficial to the sustenance of society.

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