Herald: Social enterprise impact more sustainable: Entrepreneurs

Social enterprise impact more sustainable: Entrepreneurs

09 Mar 2019 06:05am IST

Report by
VIKANT SAHAY

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09 Mar 2019 06:05am IST

Report by
VIKANT SAHAY

Leave a comment

While tech-based start-ups hog the limelight, it is the social endeavours that make a more sustainable impact on society. VIKANT SAHAY met with several such start-ups who were in Goa for a 3-day leadership development programme to learn that social start-ups also deserve attention from policy makers and govt

Start-ups in the social domain are making waves all over the world. In fact, in many terms, their impact is seen more than the technical start-ups as it is ever lasting and it grow slowly but steadily. Technology is never static and it is overtaken by some new invention which can happen the very next day of the launch of any application or device.

Realising this potential, Gray Matters Capital, a US-based impact investor with a gender lens, which focuses on funding education and skilling enterprises in India as well as sector agnostic enterprises whose products and services benefit women and girls globally, conducted  the first edition of its 3-day leadership development program in Goa which was called ‘Tales, We Win’ (TWW). 

The program witnessed the participation of founders of social sector start-ups from India, Colombia and Mexico as well as a global fellowship program for aspiring social enterprise practitioners.

With storytelling as its guiding theme, the program aimed to help entrepreneurs in communicating their organisation’s vision and story in ways which are compelling and unique, leading to a broader sphere of influence.

“Social entrepreneurs tend to embark on a steeper entrepreneurial journey. With failure rates being a lot higher, it is leadership displayed by the founding team that determines their future. Storytelling makes all the difference as it would help such entrepreneurs to define the organisational goal, influence every stakeholder – be it their teams to deliver or winning interest from investors to get funded,” said Debleena Majumdar, director, Research and Growth of Gray Matters Capital. 

The sun, sand, seafood and sundowners aside, there’s another ‘S’ word that is seen gaining traction in Goa in the past four years – ‘Start-ups’. But how many of them do we find operating in the social sector of education, sanitation, renewable energy, microfinance, bridging gender gaps etc and what is the support they get. 

Chitra Ravi is a founder and CEO of Chrysalis, a Chennai-based company that is committed to bring in change in the current education system with a vision of awakening human potential in every child. For the last 18 years, the organisation has been working with stakeholders in education across the country by developing solutions that can be implemented in mainstream schools. 

Ravi believes that, “The discovery that we all have story-tellers in us was a big eureka moment. Listening to and sharing the diversity of stories presented by like-minded entrepreneurs who feel for the world around them was a humbling experience.”

When quizzed on the Start-up Policy of India, Ravi said, “To make an everlasting impact on the world and to realise the immense potential that we as a country are capable of, I strongly believe in focusing on improving the quality of education for every child in India. Government and policy makers are key influencers in the change we aim to bring in the education system. And hence, with Start-up India policy, I think we have taken a firm step forward in this direction.”

MadGuy Labs is India's first artificial intelligence-based platform for all government jobs examination preparation in vernacular languages that aims to become the one-stop solution for all the competitive examinations. 

Alok Katiyar, Co-founder and CEO of MadGuy Labs said, “For the first time in my life, I have learnt how to group people based on their Behavior (DiSC style) and conduct a successful meeting. Now I have a deeper understanding of how a company's culture evolves over time and what are necessary steps to be taken. Though a great start has been made with the roll out of the Start-up India program, there is a long way to go for us to become a Start-up nation like that of Israel.”

Voice 4 Girls is a social enterprise that enables marginalised adolescent girls in India to re-imagine their identities, capabilities and futures. Voice conducts activity-based camps in government and low-cost private schools where girls acquire critical knowledge, spoken English and life skills.  Voice’s curriculum is designed to impart knowledge on critical topics such as health, safety, rights, future planning and self-awareness while campers acquire problem solving, decision making, negotiation and communication skills.

Anusha Bharadwaj, executive director of Voice4Girls said that, “Voice4Girls believes in telling the stories of courage and bravery. Tales, We Win was an impactful workshop where I have fine-tuned Voice’s art of storytelling. The idea, the facilitation, the location and the participants all contributed to an amazing learning environment.” 

She added that in a country that has 1.5 million child brides, many of the adolescent girls drop out from school, get married before they are 18 years old and have children before they are physically or emotionally ready to do so. 

Nikhil Saraf, co-founder of Stones2Milestones said, “With the craft of storytelling at its heart, my participation at Tales, We Win has brought me closer to my own truths and helped me voice them to the world. The three-day program had a fabulous set of entrepreneurs from different parts of the world, enabling cross cultural learning and highlighting the fact that how making the world a better place is something that binds us all together.” Stones2Milestones is an edtech organisation on a mission to 'Create a Nation of Readers', helping each child to learn to read English with will and skill.

Ellie Rose, executive director, Salus Holding says, “Beliefs can either limit or serve. Leaders can be both mules and queens. Asking vulnerable questions to boost a social entrepreneur to tell their story, these have been my key takeaways from my participation at Tales, We Win in Goa.” 

A grocery bagger turned waitress turned artist Rose despite several failed attempts was the key to sculpting a solution for better elder care in Mexico by empowering women with nursing skill education. Salus Holding is the holding company of highly replicable models in the health education and elderly care sectors in Mexico.

Juan Manuel Lopera, founder and CEO, TOMi Digital and Aulas Amigas another participant from a foreign land said, “Much like music and emotions are not constrained by language, I learnt that storytelling too can be quite emotive an experience. My participation in Tales, We Win helped me understand the power of storytelling to influence customers, team members, investors and the press.”

Lopera who owns a high growth education technology company based in Medellin, Colombia, Aulas AMiGAS believes that the education paradigm can be changed only by producing better teachers. Its vision is to change teaching from a static rote model to a dynamic active learning experience and aspires to facilitate meaningful learning experiences within the classroom through innovative technological tools.

Presently used in over 25,000 classrooms with more than 50,000 teachers as users, its products have a simple user design with easy implementation in educational settings. The core product is a smart board that helps increase classroom interaction through augmented reality.

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