Social Intrapreneurs

SustainAbility’s new publication, “The Social Intrapreneuers: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers,” features a case study on Hindustan Unilever’s Shakti project.  SustainAbility defines the social intrapreneur as:

Social intrapreneur, n. 1 Someone who works inside major corporations or organizations to develop and promote practical solutions to social or environmental challenges where progress is currently stalled by market failures.

2 Someone who applies the principles of social entrepreneurship inside a major organization

3 One characterized by an ‘insider-outsider.’

The guide uses Shakti as a “base-of-the-pyramid” case study, with intrapreneur Vijay Sharma:

Hindustan Unilever sought to increase its market share in rural villages with smaller populations, but discovered that no retail distribution network really existed and infrastructure for transport was poor. Responding to these challenges, Shakti was created to provide women with training in selling, commercial knowledge and bookkeeping. Women can then choose to set up their own businesses or become Shakti distributors. These women, in turn, become role models in their communities, catalysts for mobilizing rural development.

At the end of the guide, SustainAbility notes that business cannot solve major challenges on their own and encourages government to develop the necessary policies, and for the citizen sector to create more connections with intrapreneurial organizations.  They are working with the Skoll Foundation and the International Business Leaders Forum to expore the interaction between social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs.

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