Social Entrepreneurship: A New Social Innovation Trend

Why are conferences on Social Entrepreneurship one of the best attended events for students at eminent business schools in the US and India? What is common social entrepreneurship and NGOs, and how can they play constructive role in public-private relationships?

New generation NGO ‘Kiirti ‘is a Seattle(US)-Bangalore based platform run by Selvem to enable effective governance by promoting awareness and citizen engagement in their problems. ’Kiirti’ surveys auto traffic in Bangalore, displays its data in public places and draws the attention of civic and government authorities to the problem. Many local groups then file reports highlighting the auto issues in the congested metro. Karnataka government has inked MoU with ‘Kiirti’ for using its information. ‘Kiirti’s field reports on electoral malpractices and corruption are also followed up by other NGOs and media. It helps people in saving and delivery of water. It involves people in discussing their problems on radio Mirchi and in People’s Adalat and effective use of RTI. Using this transparent open governance approach ultimately helps government do their job effectively and gain further confidence of electorates.

Stanford-educated (now Ahmedabad-based) Neil Patel’s “Avaaj Otalo” has helped farmers to promote agri-operations by timely instructions through mobile phones. Real time information related to weather, bazaar trends like grain prices enable the farmers to take right decisions in timely manner. In its “Avaaj De” programme, , rural people call up for advice when informed experts answer their queries. ” Avaaj De” gives a voice to Gujarat’s hitherto mute villagers.

Dr.Tapan Parikh (UC-Berkeley) educates villagers to use mobile for updating agricultural and market-related information, as well as encouraging development though cultivating micro-finance practices. Parikh explained to this writer how he proposes to connect NRGs with their villages and give them the latest information about the status and needs of their vatan.

Pioneered by PlanetRead and IIM-A, Dr. Brij Kothari has original idea of reaching out to common people. He pleads for using Same Language Subtitling (SLS) by sub-titling song-based content on TV in the local language as audio. SLS creates a context in which reading skills are practiced, automatically and subconsciously by 100 million early or weak ‘literates’ comprising kids and adults. In the process, SLS leads to reading skill improvement. Kothari got SLS implemented on two nationally telecast Hindi film song programmes, Chitrahar and Rangoli. The goal of the SLS is transition over 300 million people in India, from a state of early-reading, to functional and fluent reading ability. Prasar Bharti/DD have accepted to implement SLS approach to help people educated through PlanetRead’s communications innovation.

Bangalore based Rajesh Shah’s Peer Water Exchange (PWX) is the first social entrepreneurship project that requires changes across the philanthropic value chain: from the funding (foundations and donors) to the grantee (implementers) end. He has made water metering mechanism to help prepare water bills in the metro, and prepared digital map of houses for fixing responsibility of paying water tax. He has exposed ‘water mafia’ responsible for water loss and ensured media attention on this malaise.

Silicon Valley-based Indians for Collective Action (ICA) is a nonprofit group of successful professionals who have supported innovative community-led development projects in over 20 states of India and since 1968. ICA works in partnership with dedicated social workers in India and the U.S. and recently started bringing promising NGOs like above-mentioned innovators. ICA makes sure that projects reflect the leadership – it takes great care to choose projects run by, or recommended by, activists with a track record of community service. Recently ICA has initiated to bring together such Social Entrepreneurs (SE) for synergy effect.

Many of these SEs in this article are foreign-based young leaders and have employed innovative methods and technology to address development issues. They are new breed of SE who seek to meet the state’s limitations and corporates’ profiteering excesses, and transform the way public services are provided by ingenuity of the private sector or business model. SE is a public-spirited activist who develops innovative answer to a social problem, and encourages open governance, transparency and volunteerism with the use of socially oriented technology for improving quality of life for the marginalized. India needs to ginger up this promising phenomenon.

Pravin Sheth

See event details : Social Innovation Panel, Dr. Kiran Bedi and Dr. Rajiv Shah

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