Social Entrepreneurship isn’t a new word for India at all. From NGOs to companies engaging in activities to support the nearby communities, social entrepreneurship has for long been around. For NGOs it is regarded as their utmost duty to work for the society. But for the Indian business houses, it has become part of the corporate social responsibility lexicon.
The word corporate social responsibility has moved on from something regarded as a good deed to something which the companies do because the government has asked them to.
But now companies rather are moving onto something called social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is different from corporate social responsibility in the sense that it gives people the platform to the employees to think of different ideas to serve the society. And the encouragement for this is coming up in the form of incubation of the best ideas, rewards and also having the satisfying feeling of entrepreneurship along with working for an organization.
With Project Shakti by HUL, Amul’s entire business model and ITC’s E-Choupal, local communities have always been served adequately by the FMCG majors. More so because they have always had to visit these unprivileged societies as their customers were there.
But it was the high flying executives in the IT and technology sector which were regarded as having closed to their eyes and ears to the problems of the society. But things seem to be changing. Whether it is Intel providing incubation facilities to the best socially inclusive ideas, Cisco with its competitions to find the best social entrepreneurs or Microsoft providing facilities for innovation and strong R & D, tech majors have started playing their part in changing the society.
The ideas range from a software which would help visually challenged people communicate to developing an online education model for children in the forests of Madhya Pradesh.
What is common in all the ideas is the willingness of the employees to serve the society along with the importance given to it by the senior management. It also gives an employee the feeling of satisfaction at having served played a small part in serving the society. A number of people dream of becoming entrepreneurs and this initiative helps employees lead a business while working for a top MNC. What better than that?
This has also helped the organizations lay their hands on various business ideas across industries. If the SMS based Relief Communication Management system has been adopted by the UN to receive, track and respond to requests by relief workers, IBM has planned to deploy at least 1500 of its workforce in six emerging markets by 2011.
Looks like we have finally moved beyond just CSR into something much more!