Mumbai: “There is tremendous opportunity to make profitable business venture in social sectors like healthcare, education, livelihood, affordable housing, renewable energy etc. Various kinds of investors like venture capital funds, private equity funds, development organizations like World Bank, philanthrophic bodies like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are eager to fund viable business ideas in social sectors. Many social entrepreneurs have proved that they can make profitable business by addressing social issues. Therefore, people must consider social entrepreneurs as professionals addressing social causes through innovative business models rather than social activists, said Mr. James Rajanayagam, Project Consultant, Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, IIT Madras at the one-day interactive panel discussion on ‘Sustainability through Social Entrepreneurship’ organised jointly by World Trade Centre Mumbai and All India Association of Industries (AIAI) on March 17, 2016.
Ms. Mrinalini Kher, Hon. Secretary & Trustee, Kherwadi Social Welfare Association opined that social entrepreneurship is a lucrative profession where people can earn a decent living while also contributing considerably to the welfare of the society and environment.
Ms. Chhaya Sehgal, Founder and CEO, The Winning Edge said that every responsible entrepreneur is a green entrepreneur (if they conduct business in an environment-friendly way) and social entrepreneur (as they offer employment opportunities).
Speakers also highlighted the need for long term investment to support social enterprises, which take considerable time to become profitable. “The biggest challenge for social enterprises is accessing long term capital. Social outcomes like skilling rural women, generating employment opportunities for them takes several years and hence investors cannot expect returns in a short period of time,” said Ms. Mamta Borgoyary, Chief Executive Officer of FXB India Suraksha, which provides developmental assistance to marginalized children, families and communities in rural and urban India.
According to Ms. Borgoyary, it takes at least three years to transform illiterate women in villages into self-driven entrepreneurs. “Social enterprise is a long gestation business and hence it needs investors who can commit capital without expecting quick returns. Launching business ventures in social sectors is akin to sowing the seeds for a better society in future,” Ms. Borgoyary added.
Mrs. Nirmala Kandalgaonkar, Chairperson, Vivam Solid Waste Management Pvt Ltd. pointed out how she provided livelihood to hundreds of uneducated rural women by setting up solid waste collection and processing facilities in several villages of Maharashtra.
Dr. Madhav Sathe, Jt. Hon.Secretary, The Bombay Mothers & Children Welfare Society explained how social businesses can become profitable by adopting innovative financing model and cost-effective business strategy. Dr. Sathe emphasized that social entrepreneurs must adopt flexible business models which can be adopted both in urban and rural areas. Also, he suggested that the central and state government must invest on capacity building for the officials at gram panchayat so that they can effectively collaborate with social entrepreneurs in devising viable business models.
Ms. Aarti Wig, India Country Director, Yunus Social Business opined that social entrepreneurship is all about finding a middle path between profitability and sustainability of the planet. Entrepreneurs who focus on social welfare maximization, rather than profit maximization, have ample opportunity to make sustainable business. She explained this by giving an example of how banks that lend to underprivileged people are running successful businesses compared to banks that lend to only well-to-do borrowers.
Ms. Rupa Naik, Executive Director, All India Association of Industries said, “Social entrepreneurs have a direct impact on society for a specific cause which benefits large sections of society. They have a mission which is very noble but a vision which is large. So besides, entrepreneurs, start-ups and MSMEs, these social entrepreneurs need to be recognized for their contribution which goes unnoticed simply because they are misunderstood as activists”.
On the occasion a Handbook ‘Sustainability through Social Entrepreneurship’ was released.
During the event, social entrepreneurs, academicians and representatives from consultancy organizations expressed their views on how social businesses can address social and environmental issues while also providing employment opportunities for youths.
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