Harsha Mukherjee is a multi-faceted person. She’s a profound entrepreneur, founder of a nonprofit, and a CSR consultant. She studied engineering and management in India and the US. After starting her venture “Pearls and Pashminas” in the US and working in the Middle East she started her first Social Venture – Ekjaa in India. Harsha was awarded National Social Entrepreneur Fellow (NSEF – 2011) and selected as one of the “Top 10 Indian Women Entrepreneurs” by DELL Women Entrepreneur Network (DWEN-2012). She also recognized the emerging significance of CSR developing their CSR strategy. Her book, “Sustainable CSR” is on the store: http://www.amazon.in/dp/
It is this dynamism that prompted me to feature her as the guest blogger on Creatively Unsettled.
Q: Sometime back,I read an article by a Nonprofit founder about the lack of access and absence of transparency in CSR funding. What is your view? Do you think steps are being taken by corporations and govt in this direction?
HM: Transparency and Accountability is a challenge not only in CSR funding but also in business dealings across. Although, Govt of India has set up National CSR Hub in TISS, SAMMAN platform launched by BSE and IICA and few other such endeavors have come into picture but the criteria on which corporations would fund them is absent. Social monitoring of these funds is also questionable. In many instances, you would see that corporate houses have their own foundation arms, in such cases all the criteria are overlooked, sigh.
The vision is afflicted when a Bill is formulated by considering inputs only from NGOs, and Civil Society, who are takers. There is a lack of consideration for the requirements of businesses, investors, and other stakeholders who play an active role in giving. There is an imperative need to amend the Bill. We need to take insights from our peers internationally and formulate Bill which would be acceptable to global norms thereby leading to growth. The CSR Bill is key to make the “Make in India” campaign successful.
Q: What are the hallmarks of an effective CSR strategy in brief?
HM: The concept of CSR is too focused on philanthropy, though it is beyond that. Corporations funding a social cause should mention on their website the criteria, areas, and sectors where they intend to socially invest. This is one kind of approach.
Professionally, we first conduct Need Analysis gap which is inclusive of setting success indicators used in social monitoring of the project. This is followed with designing CSR Project and seeking right implementation partner. Finally, we conduct social audit and reporting of the project. There are international tools available for social audit such as SROI, Happiness Index, et al. This process is pursued for systematic philanthropic quest .
Q: You are an entrepreneur, an educationist, a consultant and philanthropist. How do you divide your day between all these different roles? Can you share with us some interesting insights/incident from your multi-faceted professional life?
The good thing is my mind works 18 hours a day on constructive matters, generating and realizing ideas. I don’t have weekends but prefer trips which collide with work. Researching and meeting people takes most part of me, family moments are rare.
Q: Any message to women entrepreneurs in social space
HM: It is a path less walked, self motivation is the key. Keep the fire burning !
Wish India climbs the ladder to become the top 20 destinations to do business in the world and the Angel Investors/VCs believe in women entrepreneurs more.
I thank you for featuring me on your blog and wish you the best in future endeavors.