Intl. Conf. on Social Entrepreneurship in India – Day 1

I had the opportunity to attend the International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in India on the 4th and 5th of December. In this post I will try to narrate my experience at the conference. In the posts following this one, I will talk about people and organizations I got in touch with, and most importantly discuss some issues that came up for discussion during the conference.

photo credit Sonia Rai

photo credit Sonia Rai

The theme of the event – Inspiring|Connecting|Sharing – set the right expectations for the attendees and, to be sure, lived up to it. The event was organized by UnLtd India and Center for Social Initiative and Management(CSIM).

The conference was spread over two days and events were well planned to facilitate formal as well informal discussions and networking. It was eye-opening and engaging in many ways. Participants from almost all parts of India, and with interests ranging from micro-lending to rural tourism, attended.

Day 1

Proceedings were kicked off by Bert Cherian of Meta Results setting the tone with his humour and energy. The ball was set rolling by an interaction with Nachiket Mor of ICICI Foundation, facilitated by Neera Nundy of Dasra. Nachiket talked about his personal experiences that shaped up the path to his current position as President at ICICI Foundation. He narrated how people in rural areas are not exactly used to the apathy and standard of living prevalent in urban areas. He also talked about evolution of ICICI Foundation. Answering to a question, Nachiket questioned the value of experience as the only source of answers to problems. In his opinion, many a times a fresh look at things from a total outsider can give us out-of-box solutions. On a related note he said that the ability to pay or finance an initiative is not always a plus point. Many an innovative idea has come out in crunch times.

Nachiket Mor photo credit Sonia Rai

Nachiket Mor photo credit Sonia Rai

Nachiket was of the view that the term “Social Entrepreneurship” should not have been a groundbreaking term or concept at all. Enterprises should be socially conscious and socially motivated by default. Talking about scaling up organizations, he cited example of Starbucks which had to operate in centers which were poles apart in their culture.

As you have seen, Nachiket gave us some really interesting perspectives of social entrepreneurship.

Continue reading

Advertisements

A New Breakthrough in Tracking Social Entrepreneurs

I’ve always valued metrics but remain wary of the extent to which numbers can be used to reveal the whole picture. Hearing about the new Portfolio Data Management System (PDMS) – an online database tracking social entrepreneurs – is proof that there is progress in the effort to measure social impact. A variety of organizations came together for this massive effort: Acumen Fund, Salesforce.com Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Lodestar Foundation, along with programmers from Google. How does the PDMS work? BusinessWeek explains:

A common set of metrics will be recorded for each organization so donors and investors can check regularly and track their progress or spot trouble. Social entrepreneurs will be able to benchmark their results against those for similar organizations around the world.

The system will allow foundations and other donors see what the return on their investment is, and compare it against other similar organizations to see if real progress is occurring. I can imagine that not only will the information be useful to investors, though, but also to other stakeholders – partner organizations, beneficiaries, almost anyone involved the same field who wants to stay informed of the value of programs and money.

Since social enterprises are relatively new entities, standards and benchmarks are not common or shared. A specific metric that one enterprise decides to use may differ with the next. The PDMS offers a solution to the current haphazard situation… Continue reading

[TC-I Changemakers]: Interview with Maya Ajmera of The Global Fund for Children

The ThinkChange India staff is committed to providing our readers with interviews with people we believe are at the brink of something special but have for the most part been overlooked by the mainstream media. Readers will be able to see other conversations under our TC-I Changemakers tab.

Maya AjmeraMaya Ajmera is the Founder and President of The Global Fund for Children, an organization thatGFC logo provides grants to grassroots organizations around the world that work to advance the dignity of children and youth. ThinkChange India’s Prerna Srivastava and Shital Shah spoke with Maya about GFC, her experience with children’s issues, and what it takes to be a successful social entrepreneur. Special thanks to Laura Fenton for her assistance in arranging this interview.

You can listen to the interview here:

The transcript is here: GFC Transcript

As Maya mentioned in her interview, GFC is currently in the beta phase of developing a new model for measuring social impact. We hope to follow up with her once the social metrics model is fully developed.

Interesting excerpts and relevant links are after the jump. Continue reading

An Analysis of Rising Social Entrepreneurs

Echoing Green released a report with the results from a survey of their semi-finalists for the 2008 Echoing Green Fellowships (which Santhosh previously featured here).  The report reveals the characteristics of these rising social entrepreneurs, with some interesting findings, as highlighted by the Echoing Green Blog:

1) Innovative Models: Almost 30 percent of them were proposing hybrid nonprofit/for-profit organizations – echoing a trend of innovative models

2) Serial Entrepreneurs: A full 40 percent have already founded a previous organization

3) Thinking Big: Half of the organizations they proposed to launch will be on a global scale.

The survey is also shows that being a social entrepreneur is not an easy undertaking, with 30 percent dedicating more than 51 hours per week, even before the organization officially exists.  Clearly, this field requires a robust combination of perseverance, dedication, and vision.