Social Entrepreneurship is when an entrepreneur zeroes
in on a social problem and uses entrepreneurship tools and qualities to develop a business venture that will bring social change. With this definition in mind, we talk to Yashveer Singh, a young and forward thinking social entrepreneur who is the founder of NSEF- National Social Entrepreneurship Forum
that is a not for profit organization that promotes social entrepreneurship among the students of major universities across India.
Thus by inspiring, educating and supporting the next generation of social entrepreneurs and by creating environments where they can succeed. Yashveer Singh says," our objective is to establish NSEF centres in educational institutions which could act as hub for conducting world class workshops, skill-building activities and conferences. He also sees these NSEF centres develop academic courses, provide innovative training and internships in development sector and most importantly provide support through mentorship and incubation facilities for budding social entrepreneurs."
Skill Building Workshops: Promoting social entrepreneurship begins with awareness. NSEF organizes seminars and workshops on social entrepreneurship all around the country to motivate people and in particular the youth to take on social issues and to apply the principles of entrepreneurship to solve them.
Workshops are tailor made to help students understand various facets for becoming a social entrepreneurs.
- It covers a wide spectrum of topics starting from introducing students to the concept of social entrepreneurship to exploring its changing conditions in the globalizing world.
- It also covers various other aspects like the organizational structures in this field now, the characteristics (including skill sets) of successful social entrepreneurs and more.
- By bringing eminent social entrepreneurs face to face to share their experiences it inspires students to tread the path of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs share the strategic challenges they face at different moments in the entrepreneurship lifecycle - how to get the idea, how to get started, how to find the right scale, issues of organizational governance and network building and partnering.
- The workshop also apprises students on the opportunities the changing world of social entrepreneurship holds for graduate students.
Social B-Plan/Blogging Competitions: The power of social businesses to create sustainable, positive change to some of the world's most challenging social issues is unmatchable. Social Business Plan Competition by NSEF provides a platform to creative minds around the world to experiment and encourage bolder and less conventional business solutions to global problems, whereas the blogging competitions provide a platform to make them learn, create awareness and participate using Internet.
NSEF Author: An immersion experience to help highly motivated students to get a hands-on experience in the developing sector through our summer Internships program. We believe that this is critical in bringing about the next cohort of leaders who will lead the movement in the development sector. The internship will be a highly entrepreneurial experience challenging students to come up with innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the development sector. They will also get an opportunity to network with eminent thought leaders, social entrepreneurs and development experts.
Idea Café Sessions/Idea Conferences: These sessions are to share knowledge and mutually learn amongst each other at a local community (University/Metro). Chapter members select a particular theme/topic for discussion and everyone brainstorms on it which helps students to learn from each other. In Idea Conferences some experts from social entrepreneurship field come and share their experiences.
Confluence: It is an annual event organized by NSEF which acts as a platform to catalyze social entrepreneurship amongst the youth of the entire country, be a place to drive home various ocial innovations and different facets of social entrepreneurship and a place to mutually learn about effective solutions to the most pressing social problems. The event witnesses a conflux of social entrepreneurs, social venture investors, student leaders who have led campus social initiatives and thought leaders in area of social entrepreneurship sharing their ideas under one roof.
NSEF has successfully conducted many workshops/conferences on social entrepreneurship, national level Social B-Plan competitions at our partner academic universities.
The importance of Social entrepreneurship today - And how sustainable development should not just be a buzz word.
Social entrepreneur is an individual with innovative solution to society’s most pressing social problems. With a strong, non-negotiable focus to solving a social problem, he follows an entrepreneurial approach to solve the problem by using entrepreneurial systems and processes.
Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better. While a business entrepreneur might create entirely new industries, a social entrepreneur comes up with new solutions to social problems and then implements them on a large scale.
In a nutshell, a Social Entrepreneur is an amalgamation of the values displayed in Mother Teresa’s compassion and Richard Branson’s sharp business prowess.- Yashveer Singh
Social entrepreneurship as a sector offers an immense opportunity for you to lead change.
- It has just opened up and has already started showing signs of success by generating around $3 trillion turnover annually and with several ventures or innovations changing lives of millions.
- People, government, corporations and funding agencies have realized that this is a way to achieve sustainable development and have started encouraging social entrepreneurs and innovators in several ways.
- More and more people with a passion to make a difference have to enter this field and make a difference to the people.
- One major need is greater patience as long term sustainable change requires more patience and perseverance.
Is this the right way forward for a country like India - Examples of social entrepreneurship from the past
Social entrepreneurship is quietly revolutionizing the less privileged sections of India. Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy and Thulasiraj D. Ravilla established Aravind Eye Hospital
Institute of Medical Sciences and its network of hospitals run by Devi Shetty perform about three dozen surgeries a day. Of these, 60% are carried out at nominal cost or free of charge.
India is the perfect breeding ground for such enterprises. An enthusiastic GDP growth rate does not indicate inclusive growth. A developing economy will not encompass all its citizens unless entrepreneurship plays a major role. Uncountable issues ranging from Education, Pollution, Sanitation, Energy, Handicrafts e-commerce, etc. need to be addressed in an economy like India. Social Entrepreneurs are already changing lives through business ideas. A powerful example is Husk Power Systems
, which produces electricity from rice husk in inaccessible regions of Bihar, where state electricity boards have not reached. Such models can be replicated, universally. What’s most emphatic is the fact that these are not dependent on goodwill funding but self-sustained business models, making profits in addition to uplifting the society.
Social Entrepreneurship can be profitable!
The traditional thinking, which unfortunately still remains in large parts of the private corporate sector, is that NGOs and organizations with a social mission cannot be entrepreneurial. Organizations solving social problems are often assumed to be idealistic, philanthropic and lacking business acumen or the ability to be entrepreneurial. Unless the youth and fresh graduates have an exposure to the prospects in Social Entrepreneurship, this avenue can never be fully tapped into. It’s essential to reach out to them and sensitize them on how breakthrough changes can be executed through
However, as the social sector has gradually been growing and coming into closer contact with the private corporate sector, a gradual convergence between the two has been noticed. Both the social sector and the corporate sector are increasingly recognizing the fact that any one approach (pure philanthropic; pure capitalist) is inadequate to build sustainable institutions and society. Therefore, gradually, both feel the need to move towards a blended solution where organizations are entrepreneurial and responsive to opportunities and change while pursuing social goals.
Tips for our readers on how to make a social entrepreneurship model within their business or if they are looking at a new venture
The Concept of creating social value with sustainability has been highly appreciated. Young generation should look at this as an opportunity
• Balance their passion for change with a zeal to measure and monitor their impact.
• Identify and apply practical solutions to social problems, combining innovation, resourcefulness, and opportunity
• Innovate by ﬁnding a new product, a new service, or a new approach to a social problem
• Focus— ﬁrst and foremost—on social value creation and, in that spirit, are willing to share their innovations and insights for others to replicate
Yashveer Singh, Founder, National Social Entrepreneurship Forum
How Yashveer Singh came into Social Entrepreneurship
"I have always believed in following my heart and go after whatever I wish to accomplish, What matters to me is how I live a meaningful life on a daily basis." He belongs to a very small and remote village of Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan. Right from his childhood he has seen and experienced myriad social problems. "At that point; I wanted to do something but had no clarity and way forward. After my graduation from BITS Pilani, I worked with reputed social organizations like Nirmaan and than later Janaagraha to contribute my bit to bring social change, but slowly realized that there are so many social problems and the most effective way to solve these is to create a multiplier effect and motivate more and more talented young people to join this sector and use their skills to accelerate the process of social change in a sustainable manner. There were other like minded founding members of NSEF who felt the same and after lot of brainstorming sessions we came up with our working model. Currently we have a strong team of Volunteers who are alumnus of IIMs, IITs and other premier institutions of India.
Financial challenges, will always be at the crux of social entrepreneurship
Very true ! One of the biggest challenges every budding social enterprise faces is lack of funds, but the key is to innovate and come out with practical solutions, monetizing once products/services to sustain. One should also acquire information about support systems in this sector and learn to leverage networks for a larger cause.
Revenue Model for NSEF
Until now , it has successfully raised funds from network and friends and are looking for grants from donors/institutions which promotes social entrepreneurship or from social business ventures working at grass roots. Yashveer says, "In the long run, we are in the process of making a sustainable model by seeking corporate sponsorships, charging for some of our workshops and conferences, charging social organizations for providing high quality interns and consulting social organizations etc"
Future plans for the NSEF structure
Our strategy is to identify students and alumni who are passionate about social innovation or entrepreneurship through our programs and equip them to open a centre in their institution and carry out the activities and events. NSEF acts as a resource to facilitate the right pool of assistance needed to foster Social Entrepreneurship amongst this group and help them be change-makers in future.
NSEF comes in by enabling access for Students to Social Enterprises and vice-versa. The role extends to mentoring, guidance and immersion experiences to provide students an exhaustive knowledge about Social Entrepreneurship. Consequently, this will fuel the growth of more such enterprises and a multiplier effect.
You have a list of partners , can you tell us of your association with them
In our pursuits of promoting social entrepreneurship we partner with organizations, for instance, we partner with Samhita Social Ventures
to provide information related to Job opportunities in social organizations. We partnered with Villgro
to support Innovation in the area of Social Innovation. We partner with various Capacity building and consulting social organizations too.
NSEF has Student Campus Ambassadors in more than 100 academic institutes across India, who will create awareness about these opportunities, motivate students to take up these opportunities and clear their doubts and queries regarding the work culture at these organisations.