While most people associate entrepreneurship with wealth and status, there are many successful entrepreneurs who believe there is much more than monetary gain – the ability to make a difference in the world. While social entrepreneurs do not enjoy much limelight, they are vital in making our world a better place. The world has seen a lot of corporate and success oriented people. However, has it really made an impact on our lives? Sure, they have had great personal benefits; but is it at the cost of depriving someone else’s bread and butter? Much has been studied about entrepreneurs and ethics; however, that is beyond the scope of this discussion. Listed below are ten people who really enjoy working for social cause.
Water is a major problem in India. There are many areas which get water only at a certain time of the day. It is this problem that Anu addressed with her company Next Drop. It provides information on the availability of water at specific places, so one does not have to wait all day. Additionally, it also accepts feedback to review and revise its real-time data. The company, which started in 2011, already has around 70,000 customers across Karnataka.
A designer by profession, Neeti started the Sohum Innovation Lab with her husband in 2014. The first product they designed is to help parents screen their children for hearing loss at an early stage. According to her, making a difference in this field could help many children recover their hearing if tested within the first six months of being born. The product is still in its inception, and Neeti was awarded the Rolex Enterprise Award for the same. The award fund is what is being used for testing the prototype that she plans to launch in early 2016.
A simple bus journey in Mumbai alongside a differently-able person transformed his life for the better. Dhruv understood the difficulties that the people with hearing impairment had, and sought to help them by starting Mirakle Couriers in 2009. Everything from sorting the package to delivering it is done by people with hearing disability. The main language used for communication is the Indian Sign Language. This provides an employment opportunity for the people who otherwise find their day to day lives mundane.
A design engineer at heart, Alok experienced and sensed the difficulties in rural school going children. To make education a prime focus, Alok and his partner Manish Mahur started Prayas Innovation in 2014, a nonprofit company aimed to make students’ life easier. Their first product was a school bag, much lighter and sturdier than the standard ones. It also comes with an LED lamp and can convert to a desk and writing pad, thus suiting students who attend schools with limited infrastructure. Prayas Innovations are also creating other products that could benefit women. Currently, they cater to Maharashtra; however, they plan to expand to other parts of the country.
Being final year students at the NT University, Singapore; Prukalpa and Varun decided to tackle the missing element in creating social awareness among people. They started SocialCops in 2012, to allow the common man to stand up and become heroes of the day. The website works by crowdsourcing that includes polls and campaigns, then engaging the public in activities and newsletters and, finally analyzing the data and reporting to the concerned department. The result is that people now have a say in creating a safe haven, making them more aware and responsible.
Understanding that education needs a system and the system needs to be monitored, Abhishek and Saransh began Saajha in 2013. The name Saajha is an abbreviation for partnership. The company aims to introduce leadership skills amongst the teachers and school board members across Delhi. They believe this would increase the motivation of teachers and the learning ability of children to a great extent. The initial money for the venture was put in by the Central Square Foundation and American NGO Echoing Green.
Social entrepreneurship was not the main focus for this young lad who dropped out of college to start his own venture Redcode Informatics. Though the company was more than successful, the young entrepreneur felt the need to start a social media platform that could connect patients with suitable blood donors. He started Social Blood in 2011 and won the Staples Entrepreneur Award for his work. He later devoted to managing Social Blood on a full-time basis and plans to expand into Bangladesh and Africa.
Graduating from Yale University with a postgraduate degree in economics, Priya realized her social calling when she was researching at the Poverty Action Lab at MIT. Samhita Social Ventures are a platform where individuals and organizations having the zeal to serve society could meet and interact to create a better impact. The company was started in 2009 and has impacted thousands of Indians. Prior to starting Samhita, Priya co-founded the Spark group, which is an initiative to provide affordable education to the lesser privileged.
The founder of many companies, including Shanti Life; Sheetal is a financial advisor who specializes in microfinance. She has a good foothold on the subject and has been invited to talk at many prestigious universities. The company Shanti Life is non-profit and aims to reduce poverty in India by providing microfinance loans at low-interest rates. This would encourage more people from the rural community to participate in entrepreneurship and would increase sustainability. She is the recipient of many awards, including Asian women of Achievement.
Along with five friends, Gloria Benny started ‘Make a Difference’ in 2006 to cater to children coming from underprivileged societies. The registration of the company was completed in Cochin, with a team based in Bangalore. In 2015, the company was one of the best places to work in. The company assigns mentors to children from shelters and supports them not only educationally but also by inculcating personal skills and advising.
An increasing number of people now believe in social responsibility and invest their time and talent for the betterment of society. All of the above entrepreneurs have faced numerous challenges to reach this level; however, they believe that the effort they put in is worth the outcome. It would be nice to have more people involved and pave the way to a better future.