In this 67th year of independence, as our government and political leadership seem completely devoid of fresh ideas or commitment to help solve the common man’s problems, there is something that gives us hope. And that is the mushrooming breed of social entrepreneurs. It has been five years since Outlook Business started its annual special issue on “Good Businesses”. Thus far, we have profiled 126 social entrepreneurs and it is encouraging to see that even as many of these people are scaling up, thereby making a bigger impact, a completely new set is jumping onto the bandwagon, inspired by these success stories. So this year, again, we bring to you 15 men and women who are committed to creating value for society.
We have an interesting variety of entrepreneurs in this year’s line-up, from different backgrounds, interests and varying ambitions. While many are focusing on providing jobs and upgrading skills of those at the bottom of the pyramid, there is an equal number intent on improving the quality of life for India’s poor, be it through clean drinking water, affordable healthcare or better sanitation facilities. There are old hands in the social entrepreneurship space as well as newbies. What is common to them, though, is their driving need to make a difference.
It is also heartening to see that impact investors — funds that focus on social rather than financial returns — continue to believe in the power of social enterprise, despite the turmoil roiling markets around the world and in India. Building self-sustaining social businesses, with some judicious backing from patient investors, seems the perfect way of meeting our development agenda. Of course, substantial progress may remain a pipedream if the government doesn’t pull its weight. Until that happens, here is proof that what’s good for the country can also be
good for business.