Social entrepreneurship in India
The day so much waited finally come. Today we met the
organizations we are going to work with. It always makes a special effect
meeting people by person after interacting with them on the phone. Today we
learnt a lot not only about these organisations but also about social entrepreneurship
here in India. Let’s start with the 4 organizations: Fair Trade, Agastya,
Parikrama and Head Held High.
Fair Trade works with the rural areas making sure that
the farmers enter the markets on fairer terms. It was shocking to discover that
2 farmers per hour commit suicide in India (including night). The booming
economy has the effect of increasing prices of services and industrial products
while the price for agricultural products
don`t increase at same pace in the best case scenario. Furthermore Indian
agriculture needs to face old and new challenges like global warming or the
profits eroded by the middlemen.
Parikrma (http://parikrmafoundation.org/) works with poorest
children from the slums. The don`t provide just education as they have put on
place a parenting system making sure the children receive medical attention, proper
alimentation , hygiene protocol etc. etc. I personally work in this project. During the meeting
with the two representatives of Parikrma I had the fortune to hear so many stories
full of sadness and hope at the same time. I have to confess that despite I am
not an emotional person I made an effort not to cry
Agastya (www.agastya.org)is committed to bringing
innovative science education to the doorstep of Government schools. They
make sure children are not left behind from a technological point of view in
order to make easier for them to enter the Indian workforce and aim at better
Last but not least, Head Held High (www.head-held-high.org)
works in rural areas. They also work in
the educational field but their main focus is adults. They train rural people focusing on technology with the aim of helping
them to find a job in the corporate world or start their own micro-enterprises
in and around their villages.
The 4 organizations are just a drop in the ocean of social entrepreneurship In India which is booming.
What was really surprising is to discover that most of these people (if not all
of them) have the same story in common. They had very well paid jobs in the
corporate world (mainly IT) who decide one day to give up their routine jobs
and get involved in social entrepreneurship. It appears that this very common
in India. Surprisingly (at least for me) is to discover that this decision has
very little to do with religion but more with political awareness. Most of
these people had a poor background and at same point in their life they felt
the need to go back and support their communities. Apparently Maslow and his hierarchy
of needs have still a lot to teach. Anyway not only business men with a pour
background decide to get involved in NGOs but also rich people by birth. I
suppose this has a lot to do with the deep social disparities in a country
where BMW and Mercedes run on the same road where people beg for money and
fantastic new shopping centres are few meters from slums.
The NGOs in India have gone through a profound transformation in the last decade. The
increase of external funding allowed social entrepreneurship to boom. The money
available is going to increase in the next years thank to a recent law passed
in the Indian parliament (Sansad). According to this law the companies
are forced to use the 2% of their profits in social projects. The interesting
aspect is that company cannot just give money away in order to be compliant but
they have to make sure that the money is used for specific projects and they
are also responsible for them. The government will set up an agency with the
task to check that companies support the projects they decide to finance.
Anyway the money is never enough considering the amount of work to be done in a
country like India that it is a continent on its own. India competes with other
regions to attract international donations. The local NGOs complain that most
of the funds go to Africa. Sad to say that in this war between poor the fact
that they are perceived a booming economy doesn’t help them. The economy is
booming but is still affects only the economic reports and a small part of
population (bigger and bigger it must be said) leaving the rest coping with increasing
price and pollution.
Despite the increase of funding the local NGOs are trying to tailor their model around
the idea of being self-reliant. This is not a surprise considering that most of
the people working in these organizations have a business background. This is a
very positive aspect in prospective.
It isalmost midnight in Bangalore and it is time to go to sleep for me and the
Mosaic team (this is how we named ourselves). We definitely need some rest
considering the busy days we have ahead.