Corporate Social Entrepreneurship: A seed born by entrepreneurs & nurtured by corporate

Corporate Social Entrepreneurship is an idea which spurts in the mind of an entrepreneur and supported by a corporate working on the realms of achieving sustainable development goals.Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an opportune framework for companies to explore such partnerships.This new way of solving society’s travails, push the envelope of what a corporate can do and challenges CSR from merely being satisfying in nature to something which is ingrained in a company’s strategy

In an earlier post of mine I had stressed on the importance of systemwide collaboration instead of working in sector-based silos to address and catalyze change.Here we examine few cases where a social entrepreneur-corporate combination has played a pivotal role in blending social value and commercial revenue.

Merger & Acquisition

How often do we hear about such corporate acquisitions in development space? Kavikrut, a BIT alumni co-founded Mobile Medics, a mobile clinic equipped with doctor, nurse, medical equipment and drug supplies which treated rural patients while travelling hard to reach villages. While Mobile Medics was looking for funding to further experiment with other delivery models, Piramal Group, a global healthcare business conglomerate saw synergies with their own vision and instead of funding, decided to create a win- win opportunity for both, leading to the absorption of the Mobile Medics team to start Piramal eSwasthya. This acquisition helped Piramal not only in effective CSR but also in extending Piramal Health’s competence through its charity vehicle, Piramal Foundation to the large rural Indian health market.

The team together tested and researched on more efficient healthcare delivery and while the model underwent numerous changes from van based , telemedicine and community worker-call center based model, owing to various challenges including doctor shortage, village politics; e-swasthya has till date treated more than 94,000 patients.

Replicating through advocacy & usage:

Microfinance movement which was boomed in the past decades, has heightened interest for all private financial institutions in India which mandated banks to carry out financial inclusion. Microfinance industry is a typical example of a hybrid organisation that produces both social value and commercial revenue. In 2004, Dr Tara Thyagrajan, Madura Microfinance realised that loans distributed are not making any significant outcome in poverty reduction but are used for daily consumption.Further, the loans that are utilized for enterprise are also not very productive as these largely by illiterate and semi-literate adults and are typically inefficient and generate very low revenue per person.With the help of Marketplace Literacy Project, (a non-profit organization, started as an initiative by Dr Madhu Vishwanathan at the University of Illinois) which enable marketplace literacy among low-literate, low-income individuals through educational programs in collaboration, developed mini MBA programs. The content dealing with fundamentals of market research, marketing and finance were delivered in the form of typical bollywood movie to inspire ladies followed by several classroom group sessions, role plays on live case study discussing the real lives and struggles of women entrepreneurs in subsistence context.microeducation2_full

What followed next was that the people who took the course showed improvement in understanding of basic principles of entrepreneurship and made better, smarter borrowers.

In another case, in a partnership with Social enterprise, D.light,Total Oil Producer and Marketer, through its Access to Energy program, sold 1 million d-Light solar lamp under the name Awango last May through its gas stations making it one of the largest distributors of quality solar products in emerging countries.While this is a tricky dimension for a corporate to place trust on a product designed by a social enterprise and promote its purchase, d-light, a 10 year old enterprise working towards improving lives of people who live without electricity could achieve that in a brief period of time.

Fostering the ivy growing on trees

There is a growing percentage of millenial torchbearers/beacons creating pathbreaking movement emphasizing on social good for society while trying to seek change in their career and often at the very core of their lives.Just like ivy grows fats because it grows on trees, leveraging the years of effort required to grow trunks and branches, business, large CSOs and government should nurture the talent of those entrepreneurs who are riding the new wave of social entrepreneurship. Various cases reinforced these sentiments.

Take the case of Kavikrut who in a bid to deliver healthcare to the 70% of its citizens lacking access to it founded Mobilemedics. Piramal gave wing to its flight letting him head the e-Swasthya by to build initial partnerships, design strategy and test pilots in villages. Similarly, Yashveer Singh,founder of National Social Entrepreneurship Forum Ashoka India found the right fit and provided him the hub to launch and promote entrepreneurship among the youth nationwide through Ashoka’s  Youth Social Venture Program

While a robust analysis of the synergies between the corporate’s mission and social enterprise founder’s agility is essential, corporates should explore ways to support and advance soccent’s efforts in driving the impact.It’s time that CSE enters mainstream lexicon and corporates should eye this development.