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COMPANY REVIEW: Social Entrepreneurship – Change agency within a policy Framework

image“The most important contribution any of us can make now is not to solve any particular problem, no matter how urgent energy or environmental or financial regulation is. What we must do now is increase the proportion of humans who know that they can cause change. And who, like smart white blood cells coursing through society, will stop with pleasure whenever they see that something is stuck or that an opportunity is ripe to be seized. Multiplying society’s capacity to adapt and change intelligently and constructively and building the necessary underlying collaborative architecture, is the world’s most critical opportunity now. Pattern-changing social entrepreneurs are the most critical single factor in catalyzing and engineering this transformation …”- Bill Drayton (Everyone a change maker 2006)

The rush of emotions caused by pictures of manmade calamities, terrorism, etc that refuse to disappear from our daily newspapers and TV screens – may promote a feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness among the people at times. At the same time, important decisions need to be made about how to address these socioeconomic challenges at a global level. This includes issues such as allocation of funds to education, economic development and technological innovation.

Social Entrepreneurship tries to balance economic growth and social development for all with the ability of the natural environment to sustain human life on this planet. Today, Corporations are expected to identify and develop future growth markets and to allocate resources to the creation of new business models that will serve the needs of low-income customers as well.

One of the fundamental aims of every economy is excellence in the sphere of all- round welfare of the economy and the empowerment of citizens and development of the nation. In the past there was a dearth of systems that nurture and promote tomorrow’s potential social leaders within the community and Social Entrepreneurship is the solution to it. The term has been interpreted differently by several persons and organizations from different walks of life. While one group believes that it is a non- profit initiative in search of the alternate funding strategies or management schemes to create social values like the likes of Austin and Stevenson, another group believe it to be the socially responsible practice of commercial business engaged in cross- sector partnerships, like the likes of Segal, where as another third group consider it to be the means to alleviate social problems and to catalyze social transformation like the likes of Ashoka Innovators.

With its emphasis on problem-solving and social innovation, Social entrepreneurship is a process that catalyzes social change and addresses the important social needs in a way that is not dominated by direct financial benefits for the entrepreneurs and is seen to differ from other forms of entrepreneurship in the relatively higher priority given to promoting social value and development versus capturing economic value. Mr. Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka Innovators has correctly said ”Everyone is a change maker. Social entrepreneurs are critical in this change – they have a vision, and they have a big impact. …. 97%of people are afraid to see the problem. Once when people love the idea of solving the problem, they would be more willing to see it.”

This very statement highlights the fact that the base of bringing about a change is to begin from the grass root level of changing ones approach and attitude towards the issue of social responsibility, social enterprise and social entrepreneur, the concepts of which when merged together bring about what is termed as ‘social entrepreneurship’, a visionary that sees beyond the usual.

Social entrepreneurship till date has remained a topic which draws the attention as well as the criticism of several persons. It is easy to raise a voice against whatever is happening in one’s surroundings, but to enact and justify it, it would be a challenging and learning experience, an experience that would perfectly sum up to what former American president Mr. Woodrow Wilson had said, “Be the change you wish to see”. That is exactly what we need more in a country like India today.