Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 Finalists [Updated]

This week has had no shortage of announcements of accepting nominations for some competitions and the unveiling of winners from others. Today, IndiaPRwire reports that the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation, Schwab Foundation, and UNDP has picked finalists for the 2008 Social Entrepreneurship of the Year Award.

The Award recognizes individuals who offer the most innovative and sustainable solutions to society’s impending social problems. The ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award over the last few years has risen to prominence among social entrepreneurs with applicant’s immensely valuing the benefits the award brings. The steady increase in the number of nominations filed for this award is proof of it growing significance

Here are the three finalists:

Founded by Arbind Singh in 1995, Nidan builds profitable businesses and ‘people’s organizations’ that are led by assetless, informal workers. A range of cooperatives, Self Help Groups (SHGs), trade unions, and individual and community businesses launched by Nidan have positioned unorganized workers as legitimate competitors in globalizing markets of India. Nidan works in Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi and Rajasthan.

  • Founder of PlanetRead, Brij Kothari. Aishwarya wrote about Mr Kothari back in June and discussed his “same language subtitling” (SLS) tool. Refer to his post for more information, and the Khemka Foundation’s description below.

Using the simple tool of Same Language Subtitling (SLS) on popular song-based television programs, PlanetRead is sharpening the literacy skills of an estimated 200 million ‘literates’ or ‘neoliterates’ who have weak reading and comprehension skills, despite having attended at least primary school. By superimposing subtitles on visuals in the ‘same’ language as the audio, Brij ensures that reading becomes a byproduct of entertainment already consumed by the audience.

A joint venture of PlanetRead and IIM Ahmedabad, SLS has combined the tremendous reach of India’s national broadcasting agency, Doordarshan, with the enormous appeal of film songs, to give lifelong reading practice to early literate persons.

SSP is launching profitable rural businesses powered by partnerships between large corporations, like BP Energy and village women in disaster-affected areas. Founded by Prema Gopalan in 1994, SSP has organized 60,000 rural women into social networks through which new retail businesses are opening up in bottom-of-the-pyramid markets. The businesses-clean energy products, organic goods, health and financial services-have led to cumulative incomes of INR 2.3 crores for village women entrepreneurs.

We’ll keep you updated on who wins the award, after it is announced this weekend at the India Economic Summit.

Update on November 18: Arbind Singh was declared the winner. Congrats!

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