[TC-I Call to Action]: Yale Global Social Entrepreneurship Course

[Via Ajaita Shah]: Yale is working to identify social entrepreneurs working in the public, private and NGO sectors in India and invites them to participate in a Fall 2009 program on Global Social Entrepreneurship at Yale.

A core goal of the program is to link teams of Yale students with mission-driven social entrepreneurs in India over a four-month long course designed to bring the students and social entrepreneurs together to develop a business plan which addresses a specific management challenge the social enterprise is facing.  Key attributes for the course commencing in the Fall of 2009 are:

–         Five teams of 4 to 6 students each will be dedicated to working with a different social enterprise on a project vital to its continued organizational development;

–         The selected social entrepreneurs will visit the Yale campus for an intensive week of faculty and student interaction specific to their challenge;

–         Student team members will visit India to get a more practical view of the challenge and to meet with (or present recommendations to) each social enterprise’s management, staff and trustees;

–         A two-day conference will be held in India at which students, faculty, Yale alumni, each social enterprise’s representatives, and invited guests will hear and discuss the plans and explore issues of broader import to social entrepreneurs.

They are actively seeking, and accepting applications from, social enterprises in India interested in collaborating with them in next Fall’s course.  A one-page description of the program and an application form (due no later than April 10, 2009) are here and here.

[TC-I Changemakers]: Echoing Green’s Cheryl Dorsey

Editors’ note: The ThinkChange India staff is committed to providing our readers with first-hand insights from groundbreaking changemakers. Readers will be able to see other conversations under our TC-I Changemakers tab.


Cheryl Dorsey is the President of Echoing Green, a leading global nonprofit which “invests in and supports outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs to launch new organizations that deliver bold, high-impact solutions.” Since its inception in 1987, Echoing Green has awarded more than $27 million in start-up capital to over 450 social entrepreneurs. Unlike typical venture capital firms, they are authentic collaborators in the process of effecting social change:

We consider ourselves active investors-not just providing funding, but also helping our social entrepreneurs achieve their maximum potential through a range of support services, including training, networking opportunities, consulting, and championing. Similarly, we view our fellows as investment partners, with whom we collaborate as they build and grow their organizations and with whom we hope to have a long-term relationship.

Cheryl became President of Echoing Green in May 2002, ten years after being awarded the Echoing Green fellowship herself for “Family Van,” a community-based mobile health unit for at-risk residents of inner-city Boston neighborhoods.

ThinkChange India’s Prerna Srivastava and Shital Shah spoke with Cheryl about Echoing Green’s path-breaking work, and solicited her insights regarding the future of the social entrepreneurship sector. Special thanks to Shalena Broadnax for her unflagging spirit during the process of arranging this interview.

We were struck by Cheryl’s groundedness and passion for this field. Overall, Cheryl emphasized the importance of being embedded in the local community, sticking by one’s core values, the “human capital” side of the equation, and the ability of anyone to get involved in social change even if they are not an entrepreneur.

The full interview follows below.

The following questions were discussed over the phone. The answers are not verbatim.

ThinkChange India (TCI): Can you start by briefly describing the work of Echoing Green, including its history since inception? How has the organization evolved since 1992?

Cheryl Dorsey (CD): Echoing Green was started in 1987 by the founding members of a private equity firm, General Atlantic, LLC. The idea was to bring meaningful venture capital principles from the private sector to philanthropy. They provided wraparound technical support services to give the organization the best chance of success and be on the cutting edge of social entrepreneurship for positive social change. The organization started as a private foundation with secure revenue from many sources, but has since evolved into becoming a public charity. Now, Echoing Green is a social venture fund. Continue reading

South Asia Workshop on Social Entrepreneurship

TC-I reader Suresh Parmar tipped us about a workshop focusing on social entrepreneurship on April 16-17 in New Delhi.  Held by the Centre for Training and Research in Responsible Business and Social Entrepreneurship (New Delhi), in partnership with the Centre for Social Initiative and Management (Hyderabad), the workshop will focus on a range of issues.

The workshop is open to national and international participants. Since the 1970s, with the advent of Bill Drayton’s Ashoka, the ranks of social entrepreneurs are increasing steadily. In India we have, Aravind Eye Healthcare, Basix Bank, Ekal Vidyalaya,  Sri Grameen Mahila Udyog (Lijjat), Narayan Hrudayalaya, Sewa, Selco, Nidaan, etc

This workshop has been designed to explain the important breakthroughs in nonprofit development: social entrepreneurship. Participants learn what social entrepreneurship is, and how to develop and implement customized plans for social entrepreneurship, including for their own organizations.


(a)     Concepts of Social Entrepreneurship Innovation
•       Social benefit/Impact/Accountability
•       Blending of social work and business (charity to commerce spectrum)
•       Sustainability of organization and triple bottomline.
•       Social Enterprises and market-based solutions for social problems
•       Collaboration with other organizations and sectors
•       Empowerment of beneficiaries/clientscustomers

(b)     Case studies

The case studies will  illustrate the concepts and application of business methods in social work. The case studies will also highlight how the social entrepreneurship is different from traditional business entrepreneurship and conventional social work approaches. Continue reading

Muhammad Yunus speaks to NYU

Here are some high level points from his talk last night. My own observations are preceded by initials, while comments he said are left alone. I kept them in this order as this was the original chronology of how they developed:

  • (VG) Power of one man: it is impossible to not be in awe when you listen to what he has done.
  • (VG) Amazing brand image: While they may not be concerned with profit, there is no question that Grameen is very focused on building and maintining a strong brand identity that in itself is opening doors and creating opportunities.
  • Low tech + high tech: much of what Grameen does is marry high tech with existing/traditional products. The prime example is Grameen Danone which uses a dietary staple of Bangladeshi children to transmit nutrition.
  • “I wondered what I was doing” – his question when he realized he does not own a single share in any of his companies. (VG) This unyielding desire to create is found in any successful entrepreneur. For them money is only one part of what drives them.
  • “Human beings have multiple dimensions as should businesses”
  • “You don’t need fancy packaging in a social business because you are making something you need”
  • “Why should people pay for something they will throw away” — his response to make the the packaging to Danon Yogurt not only bio-degradable (currently happening) but edible and nutritious as well! (Danon is working on it).
  • Poverty museums — one day we will take our children to these to show them what the world was like when people still existed in poverty
  • “Technology is like water it takes the shape of whatever you put it in” — it is not the technology that is critical but it is being use for

The Status of Social Entrepreneurship in India

An INSEAD article reflecting on social entrepreneurship after the International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in India highlights some key challenges and trends for the field.  Some interesting points I picked up:

  • The legal, political, and social environment is important to social entrepreneurship.

A policy and regulatory framework within which social entrepreneurs can obtain status without compromising their objectives is also very important.

  • Space for collaboration is needed

“It would be good to have a collaborative network to be used among social entrepreneurs that enables them to share ideas and spread innovations, ideally linked to an academic institution interested in, and committed to, promoting awareness and creating knowledge and insight into the best functioning of social enterprises,” [Hans Wahl, executive director of INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative] adds.

  • The need for social entrepreneurship will grow in the next five to ten years

“Social entrepreneurship and social businesses will be mainstreamed substantially, so we will have many opting to follow the course of one or the other which will hopefully impact society positively.” (Devashri Mukherjee, director of Ashoka’s Venture Programme)

Beyond these predictions, Deval Sanghavi of Dasra points out that social entrepreneurship exists because the government has not been able to meet the needs of citizens.   Mr Sanghavi points out to INSEAD that “the government is very keen on promoting social entrepreneurship – not necessarily by funding it or by advising on it or enabling it. What they do do, is not disable it.”  In India, the ability to create social enterprises is not hindered by government (although, as pointed out, it is not helped either).

For further predictions on the field of social entrepreneurship in general, check out the countdown for the top trends at Change.org’s Social Entrepreneurship blog.

[TC-I Call to Action] Business Development Professionals at iDiscoveri Education

iDiscoveri is a social enterprise working towards ushering in change in society by reviving education in India. It is doing this by working at different levels of the education system. It is looking out Business Development Professionals. Read more about it below.

iDiscoveri – a social enterprise with a mission to renew education in India –  iDiscoveri seeks to demonstrate visible evidence of teaching and learning practices that deeply engage learners, nurture their mind, body and sprit, and forge meaningful connections with the world outside. iDiscoveri was founded in 1996 and is backed by a multi-disciplinary team  of 70+ passionate practitioners having expertise in curriculum design, pedagogy, teacher education, leadership development, and curriculum design . Educated in leading institutions such as Harvard, Cambridge, CIE, IIM, and IIT, our team have held teaching and leadership positions at the Shri Ram, Sanskriti, Aurobindo, Krishnamurthy, Montessori & IB schools amongst many others. Our website www.idiscoveri.com has more details about the team and the organization. We are working with over 60 schools across India to implement an innovative curriculum program called XSEED which provides the skills and tools for teachers to make learning more experiential, raise children’s understanding of core concepts and promote inquiry and application. This program has the potential to truly change the quality of learning and teaching in a large number of schools. Further details about the XSEED Program can be found at http://xseed.idiscoveri.com

We are looking for driven professionals to develop our business with schools across Tamil Nadu. iDiscoveri is an exciting place for people who bring a passion for education and have the drive to excel in a startup environment launching new products and services. The role we are recruiting for is:

Education Associate (EA) – (Chennai & Coimbatore) A thinking person, passionate about education, with excellent English and Tamil communication skills, extroverted personality and ability to generate business. MBA with 2-3 years experience in business development or a former teacher with a knack for business would be ideal – we are open to alternate profiles as well. Knowledge of the local geography, willingness to travel and establish contact with a large number of schools is required. He/She would be responsible for creating a database of schools in their territory, organize meetings and make presentations to school correspondents and principals and generate business opportunities.

Discoveri will generously rewards performers with competitive salary and performance-linked incentives. Exposure to cutting-edge learning methodologies, exceptionally competent team members and a high energy working environment are some of the other benefits we offer. This role requires extensive travel to cities and towns in your region. We are looking for associates in Chennai and Coimbatore. Interested candidates may send a resume and cover letter to Anustup Nayak (anustup@idiscoveri.com)

[TC-I Call to Action]: Rural Innovations Network Fellowship

L-RAMP‘s blog announces the Rural Innovation Network‘s fellowship program, an exciting new hands-on opportunity to hone social entrepreneurship skills. Vinay previously blogged about RIN, an NGO that assists rural entrepreneurs to bring their product to market.

Details on the fellowship:

Rural India needs ideas that can deliver inclusive, eco-friendly and sustainable prosperity. A handful of individuals – better known as social entrepreneurs, are making a difference by blurring the boundaries between business and social good. These individuals stand out for their vision, purposefulness, passion, leadership, innovativeness, risk taking ability, and persistence.

Do you, as an individual aspiring to be one such pathfinder, need a space that’s a live laboratory to hone your instincts and sharpen your abilities? Do you need an opportunity that prepares you before you launch your dream venture? Do you simply want to break away from the routine and engage with the fascinating rural India? Continue reading

[TCI-Changemaker] CSIM: An NGO to groom social entrepreneurs

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.

In this edition TCI-changemaker focuses on Prof. K.L Srivastava, chief Coordinator of Center for Social Initiative and Management (CSIM) Hyderabad. A charitable organization cum learning centre that first started in Chennai, it has quickly spread to Bengaluru and Hyderabad and Mumabai with an aim to groom professionals from various fields to be social entrepreneurs by providing affordable and non-intrusive training programs. Badhri explores the Hyderabad wing of this unique organization and the gentleman at its helm in this conversation.

Badhri: Prof. Srivastava, Thanks for taking time off for this interview. Before we discuss about CSIM, can you please quickly outline your professional and educational background?

K.L. Srivastava: My pleasure. I grew up in a village in UP and completed my B Tech (Agricultural Engineering) degree from the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in 1966, and M Tech (Agricultural Engineering) with specialization in Soil and Water Management from IIT Kharagpur in 1972. Some of the positions I have held before joining CSIM in 2006 are: Associate Professor at the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar; Senior Scientist, Natural Resource Management, ICRISAT, Hyderabad; Consultant, Indo-Dutch APWELL project on participatory irrigation and rural development; and Natural Resource Management Specialist in some NGOs in Hyderabad.

Badhri: How did you come to be part of CSIM?

Prof. Srivastava: I have always believed that we can achieve equitable and sustainable development in India in a free market economy by strengthening the citizen sector. Due to my interest in social entrepreneurship, Corporate Social Responsibility and management education in the social sector organizations, I acquired knowledge in these fields through self study and also by joining several discussion forums. While working with PRDIS (an NGO dealing with agriculture and rural development), I started working as a guest faculty at CSIM in 2005. Subsequently, I was invited to take over as the Chief Coordinator of CSIM in June 2006.

Continue reading

Which Country is #1 for Social Entrepreneurs?

A quick insight from Ryan Gunderson of Riches for Good: India is the most favored country for social entrepreneurs around the world. According to his research, India has “over 75% of the top organizations [in the field] working there.”

Why is India the clear favorite for social entrepreneurs? The obvious answer is market opportunity. India has a population of 1.1 billion people, or 1/6 of the world’s population. According to the CIA World Factbook, approximately 1/4 of these people, or about 300 million people, live below the nation’s poverty line. GDP per capita at PPP is $2,500, or about $7 per day, which is high enough that market-based approaches to poverty alleviation can be effective. And industrial output is growing at 8.5% per year, so MNCs are eager to capitalize on growth and show good corporate citizenship in the process. So whether you’re a for-profit or a non-profit, be prepared to answer the question “What’s your India Strategy?”

His findings confirm that social entrepreneurship is playing a key role in India’s growth. Check out his complete list and methodology here.

Discover your inner Social Entrepreneur on the Train

The Tata Sons are starting to be quite innovative in designing their CSR efforts [via Financial Express]:

Tata Jagriti Yatra 2008 will be an inspirational train journey undertaken by around 400 young and enterprising participants, between 18-25 years, from India and overseas, Tata Sons’ Executive Director, R Gopalakrishnan, said in Mumbai.

The youth will participate in an 18-day train journey interacting with social and economic entrepreneurs across the country, encouraging the spirit of social entrepreneurship, he said.

Of course, this is not the first time the Tata Group has taken an interest in social entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, it launched a International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme in partnership with UC Berkley and University of Cambridge [TC-I coverage here].

If you are one of those lucky ones between 18 and 25, you should find a way to get on that train [and may be live-blog for TC-I!]

Nothing fabric(ated) about this venture

In mid-March, we had posted about FabIndia and their innovative business model. This time, the Business Standard has reported about the same venture, in more detail, in their weekly supplement ‘The Strategist’. FabIndia’s MD, William Bissell, means business and makes his point:

If one is very serious about CSR, you may have a vice-president heading it. I find a lot of people doing doublespeak. This creates dissonance both within the organisation and outside. This inclusive approach defines our brand and gives it great value. If you do what you believe in, it defines you,” he says.

He is convinced that involving artisans and sharing the benefits of growth with them is the most sustainable of all models. Without that, the market-based system — in his view it is the best system to alleviate poverty — is in danger of being “discredited”.

Artisans Micro Finance (AMF), a wholly owned subsidiary of FabIndia facilitates the setting up of individual ventures. The share-holding pattern of each venture is 49% AMF, 26% artisans, 15% private investors, and 10% employees of the community-owned company.  Chanderi village seems to be their showcase venture currently.

As we see it, there are many benefits of such an initiative:

  • Provides a more reliable source of income to traditional artisans
  • Boosts local income (Chanderi weavers now get Rs 23 instead of the earlier Rs 13)
  • Benefits FabIndia by way of providing a more distributed and cheaper warehouse logistics system
  • Helps preserve rapidly dying traditional arts

Again, this vindicates our belief that business and social responsibility can go together.

Remote Blogging: Skoll World Forum 2008 – Replication and Scale

At the recent Skoll World Forum, the Berkeley Bottom Line bloggers covered Dr. Paul Farmer‘s speech following the Replication and Scale session. Diverging from discussions of business models and financial feasibility, Farmer offered a human touch to the idea of social entrepreneurship and scale. They quote from his speech:

Continue reading

BITS Pilani’s rural cooperative

In response to my previous post on the role of academic institutions in building entrepreneurs, Rachit pointed me out the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at BITS Pilani (yes, we do read your comments!)

The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) at BITS Pilani, was set up for that very purpose, to create entrepreneurial leaders and have a significant impact on the global entrepreneurial community.
We are also one of:

  • The Centers for Excellence at BITS Pilani
  • The top 5 centres of Entrepreneurship among Indian Universities
  • The founders of the National Entrepreneurship Network
  • More specifically, the center runs a program called Parampara, which is building a self-sustaining women’s cooperative in rural Pilani:

    The project is planned to be implemented in three phases:

    1. Identifying a group of women and engaging them in an income generation activity to build the foundation of the cooperative
    2. Building a self sustained cooperative around the group
    3. Bringing in micro-finance into the cooperative to help in growth.

    A small cooperative of 21 women has already been setup in a village called Garinda. They call themselves the Saraswati Cooperative and currently manufacture paper bags. More products are being thought of and models to market them being worked out.

    It’s important for academic institutions to look around their campus and focus on creating ‘sustained’ change within those communities where they are located. There was a reason why India’s founding fathers wanted to locate premier business and engineering schools in remote corners of the country. Of course, it’s a stark reality that almost all of the graduates from these ivy schools re-locate to a metro or outside the country the moment the graduate. But the BITS initiative is a good example of creating change in the rural community around the campus. We need many more.

    P.S. Its quite ironic that BITS decided to locate its newest campus in Dubai!

    Tata Group’s foray into Social Entrepreneurship?

    Business Standard reports that the Tata Group has launched a International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme in partnership with UC Berkley and University of Cambridge:

    As part of the Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme (TISES), the University of California, Berkeley and University of Cambridge will identify up to five students each from the undergraduate or higher study level, for an 8-week summer internship at Tata Group’s community initiative programmes. The MOUs signed between the Tata Group and the University of California, Berkeley and University of Cambridge stand for a period of three years.

    Would a 8-week internship in the CSR wing to the Tata group classify as social entrepreneurship? Drop in a comment and let us know your views.

    A New Fashion in Goodness

    A refreshing op-ed, written by David Brooks in the NYTimes, focuses on the trend of social entrepreneurship. Titled “Thoroughly Modern Do-Gooders,” the article is overall positive about the field and lauds its pioneers as “some of the smartest and most creative people.” Brooks likens the field to a growing fad:

    Fashions in goodness change, just like fashions in anything else, and these days some of the very noblest people have assumed the manners of the business world — even though they don’t aim for profit. They call themselves social entrepreneurs, and you can find them in the neediest places on earth.

    Brooks also differentiates this wave of social entrepreneurship with past experiments:

    The older do-gooders had a certain policy model: government identifies a problem. Really smart people design a program. A cabinet department in a big building administers it.

    But the new do-gooders have absorbed the disappointments of the past decades. They have a much more decentralized worldview. They don’t believe government on its own can be innovative. A thousand different private groups have to try new things. Then we measure to see what works.

    He attests that these new do-gooders are in some way redefining the connotation of the word since “they are data-driven and accountability-oriented,” instead of merely ideological. Social good as an end is not the simple case any more; the drive and means are just as relevant.

    Most importantly, Brooks raises the question of how best to encourage and take advantage of this burst of social innovation. What types of policies, programs, funds, etc . need to exist in order to maximize on this age of creativity by modern do-gooders?