Social enterprises, inclusive business, impact innovation, are the buzzwords that have taken the current economic ecosystem by storm. The profit with a purpose model has reaped tremendous results, attracting more and more budding entrepreneurs to choose this stream. Ideas are plenty, but not every entrepreneur with a great idea possesses all the required tools to make her ideas into a profitable impact-centric business. That’s where Social Impact Incubators come in.
In a country that is home to a third of the world’s poor, promoting social enterprise has many potential benefits. Supporting a social cause is no more restricted to just donating money or raising funds for an activity or a community. A new breed of supporters called Social Impact Incubators have emerged across the country, giving aid of every kind to help social enterprises grow. Why? Because that’s what the country needs today!
While there are a huge number of incubators supporting e-commerce, tech and other commercial startups, the same isn’t true in case of social enterprises. Gradually, as the idea picked traction, social impact incubators – incubators that support entrepreneurs who have social impact at the center of their vision – have assumed importance.
Organisations like Deshpande Foundation, Villgro, CLEAN and UnLtd India and many more form a part of a growing tribe of initiatives supporting social enterprise, including networks (like the National Association of Social Enterprises), funders and impact investors (like Aavishkaar) and conferences (such as the Global Sankalp Summit). India’s national social enterprise landscape is becoming more diverse and vibrant, particularly compared with that of most other developing countries.
Social Impact Incubators are the ‘crucible’ of socio-economic change’ in the real sense.
Through this series ‘Drivers of Social Change’, you will be introduced to members of the core team of some prominent social incubators to understand the softer aspects of social incubation, their selection process and their mentorship model.
To understand more about how these social incubators work, I had a chat with one such prominent incubator in the country who has molded and mentored social entrepreneurs across the globe – Deshpande Foundation.
Driven by the belief that well-planned and well-developed solutions which have a long-term impact are the only way forward for the country, Deshpande Foundation creates an eco-system that nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship. Having worked with more than 130 social good brands, entrepreneurs at Deshpande Foundation are given the chance to come with ideas that are workable and drive social impact in the deepest levels. Credible ideas are given financial aid along with mentorship in business management, human resources and everything that a changemaker needs to make his for-profit or non-profit grow and flourish.
I was joined by Dr. Neelam Maheshwari, Director of Deshpande Foundation, who shared her views about how entrepreneurs are chosen for their program at Deshpande Foundation, the Deshpande Foundation Sandbox Samidha program and the various stages of mentorship they go through.
Excerpts from the Hangout:
Our incubation is trying to bring the excellence of for-profit and combine it with compassion of non-profit
It’s the passion of the entrepreneurs, that we bet on, more than the idea
Ideas are ideas. But ideas that are relevant to the people we walk with are important
Ideas need to go through a road of trials and errors, course corrections before becoming successful
Entrepreneurs should be given a fair chance to fail
When a farmer comes and says that I am ready to buy this product, not at the full amount, but atlas some money, then we deem it as the success of the entrepreneur
Poor people do not want freebies. They are ready to pay whatever they can and just expect the service and accountability in return
Social entrepreneurs are a rare breed
They have the strong will power to go through the ups and downs before becoming successful
The entrepreneurs who have the conviction to their idea, succeed faster
Response from the customer is necessary
The tenacity of the entrepreneurs to be able to take advice is important
Focus and the ability to constantly reinvent is what we look for in an entrepreneur