Social Entrepreneurs and Changemakers are not activists. They come from diverse backgrounds, sectors, fields and a distinct nature of individual experiences. They are doctors, engineers, teachers, bankers, students, travelers, parents and above all, common people like you and me. But what sets them apart is a strong sense of emotional connect with a socio-economic or environmental cause which resides in their hearts, driving them towards the path of positive change.
As celebrated author, David Bornstein rightly said about Social Entrepreneurs in his book ‘How to Change the World’- They are “people with new ideas to address major problems who are relentless in the pursuit of their visions, people who simply will not take “no” for an answer, who will not give up until they have spread their ideas as far as they possibly can.”
Ways To Prepare For Social Entrepreneurship
In our view, most present day social entrepreneurs have a strong pedigree. Apart from their zeal to create movements, they possess strong academic credentials and management expertise which they harness to create socio-economic changes at the grass root level.
Today, social entrepreneurship is a fast growing ecosystem comprising mentors, incubators, impact investors, government agencies, aware consumers and entrepreneurship development programmes. Leading institutions in India have recognized the positive impact of Social entrepreneurship on sustainable development of the country, and have designed specific courses and curriculum.
There are 2 ways of going about it, – Degree courses and Fellowships. While a Degree provides the knowledge and tools, Fellowship teaches you how to use them in the best way.
For all those looking to study social entrepreneurship as a mainstream subject, leading institutes provide 2-yr Degree courses in Social Entrepreneurship and allied fields. For instance, leading institutions like TISS and NMIMS in Mumbai offer a Master’s Degree in Social Work, Social Innovation and related specializations under Mumbai University.
Apart from these mainstream institutions, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), an autonomous body, and a not-for-profit institution, set up in 1983, sponsored by apex financial institutions, namely the IDBI Bank Ltd, IFCI Ltd. ICICI Ltd and State Bank of India (SBI) and Insead (Specializing in Business Management courses) has rolled out management courses for social entrepreneurs.
Fellowships are more practical in approach. They condition the aspirants’ minds to tune them with the ground reality and are focused on providing exposure to budding entrepreneurs.
Institutions like Deshpande Foundation, Acumen.org and, Teach for India, invite applicants who wish to experience the practice of social entrepreneurship at the grass-roots level. Fellowships generally have a duration of 8 months to 2 years wherein students are exposed to real life situations and mentored on how best they can utilize their knowledge to create a disruptive change in the lives of the target community.
Ashoka offers a stipend to the fellowship students for a period of 3 years so that they can concentrate on building their enterprise. These students are chosen through a rigorous selection process where the candidate’s credentials, ability, and the innovation’s benefit is assessed with a keen attention to details.
Some institutions like SSEIndia offer incubation and financial support to applicants to help them set up their own social enterprises and drive the change-making process.
As social entrepreneurship ecosystem develops in India, educational options to study it as a career are steadily emerging. Gone are the days when social good occurred through activism. Today, it’s an organized and recognized field of study.