There are entrepreneurs and then there are entrepreneurs. And then there are social entrepreneurs. While the former startup with inspirational ideas, being motivated from either their own lives or some long-due dreams, the latter start off with a motive to make society and others’ lives better. Here is presenting a few women who went the social entrepreneurship way, and made a success of it.
Founder and CEO at Samhita Social Ventures, the seeds for social entrepreneurship were sown in Priya's mind while working as a Researcher at the Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. At MIT, she mentored a student team who were trying to come up with innovative ideas for poverty alleviation across the world. In the end, she had two student-led start-ups Aerovax, a company that created safe, inhalable aerosol vaccines that could be delivered without the use of needles and Kalpataru, a company that delivered innovative, low-cost technology to increase the efficiency of microfinance institutions. Both social enterprises won several awards at MIT.
The realization then dawned that she needed to do something on those lines in India. Sure enough, post her return, she kick started her venture in 2009, focused on bringing multiple organizations like corporations, donor agencies, NGOs, individuals and philanthropists together to collectively create impact in the development sector in India.
Sheetal Mehta Walsh
Having worked extensively with investment banks and venture capitalists, when it was time to give back to society, Sheetal's unique idea was a microfinancing platform. Shanti Life provides financial assistance to those budding entrepreneurs in villages and slums in Gujrat so that they can create sustainable businesses for themselves. The organization also helps them create networks as well as mentors and trains those who have the capability but lack the resources to sustain their business.
A yoga teacher, Sheetal is now focused towards mentoring, giving financial literacy training, providing easy access to eco-sanitation facilities to each member at a very low interest rate of 12% through Shanti Life.
She was always interested in working with children, and she realised this dream very early in life, in her twenties, after working five years with google. She co-founded Make a Difference or MAD as it is also known, an organisation that is one of India's largest volunteer networks today. MAD invites the youth to participate in making the lives of underprivileged children better through implementing learning projects that provide needy children with proper skills that guarantee employment.
Gloria aims to inspire about 360 million people in giving at least 1 hour per week in helping underprivileged children across India. In 2013, the organization numbered around 1,300 volunteers teaching and mentoring about 5,400 orphaned and underprivileged kids in across 20 cities of India.
An engineer from the University of Pune, Saloni Malhotra is the Founder of DesiCrew. She started her career in an interactive media start up, Web Chutney in Delhi and headed off to make her dreams reality through DesiCrew, an organization shaped to create employment opportunities in rural areas and small towns. DesiCrew provides knowledge based livelihood to the needy. A meeting with Professor Jhunjhunwala of TeNet group, IIT Madras inspired her to put the idea of forming DesiCrew on the table.
In March 2012, Saloni handed over her responsibility from the organisation to a expert management team. However she still is a part of the board.
With an MA in social science, gravitating towards the social sector came naturally to Pooja, and she founded UnLtd. India and Bombay Connect. UnLtd India is an incubator for social entrepreneurs which works with highly potential and early-stage social entrepreneurs and helps them develop as leaders, speed up their impact, construct their organisations for scaling and further investment. While Bombay Connect is India’s only co-working space determined to bring social change.
As if this wasn't enough, Pooja has also started travel company Journeys for Change which aims at motivating leaders into social enterprise through journeys. A social entrepreneur if ever there was one!
Feature Image Courtesy: supportconnection.org