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Addressing the need for further theorisation and operationalisation of social entrepreneurship in India, this edited collection provides a critical and deeper understanding of the social entrepreneurial ecosystem. Covering topics such as entrepreneurial intentions, empathy, impact investment and standardised social measures, the contributors explore the potential of social entrepreneurship and sustainable business models in an Indian context. Offering empirical cases and presenting a realistic perspective of the social entrepreneurship landscape in India, this collection will undoubtedly be of value to those interested in creating a social and sustainable impact in business and society.



Theoretical Contextualization


1. Embedding Diversity in Social Entrepreneurial Research: India’s Learning Laboratories

The Indian social entrepreneurial ecosystem is acknowledged by many as a site for emerging business models that could simultaneously address the challenges of poverty and inequitable growth. But the spurt in social entrepreneurial activity has not been matched by conversations on the diversity of approaches that make Indian social entrepreneurial initiatives unique. We suggest that situating social entrepreneurship within narratives such as ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’ or ‘social business’ discounts the rich ways in which social entrepreneurship has been shaped by actors in India including the well-known Ashoka foundation, which began its journey in India. India has been an important site for experiments, a learning laboratory where a vibrant civil society has led social innovation and also demonstrated the role of communities as social entrepreneurs. In this chapter, we suggest that social entrepreneurship in India needs to be explored within a longer narrative of social innovation in India that precedes in many ways the rise of social entrepreneurship as a phenomenon in the twenty-first century in Europe and the United States. In this chapter, we first present a quick overview of some of the recent initiatives in the social entrepreneurial landscape in India presenting some gaps in understanding the social sector from the much-hyped governmental initiatives on Startup India as well as by presenting a case for a rethink on social entrepreneurship in India. We situate the diversity of Indian social entrepreneurship by theoretically grounding it within the larger context of social movements. Second, we look more closely into the idea of producer-owned cooperatives, which emerged in the Indian civil society space, and how these unique social enterprises demonstrate principles of social entrepreneurship quite different from the dominant narratives.
C. Shambu Prasad, V. Joseph Satish

2. Education Conversations: Situating Social Enterprise in India’s Education Discourse

In India, recent estimates indicate that nearly a third of social enterprises work within the education sector. These organizations are entering a discursive field in which some of their contrasting features, including public and private interests, profit-making and social impact, are fraught with ideological implications already deeply vested in the sector. Within this discursive field, one particularly divisive debate concerns whether to enhance educational opportunities, especially for low-income and socially disadvantaged groups, primarily by working to reform government schools or by embracing the increasing privatization of the schooling sector that has marked the past several decades. This chapter draws upon interviews with thought leaders in the fields of social enterprise and education in India to illuminate key points of tension in this debate and how they might affect the position and perception of educational social enterprises.
Isabel M. Salovaara

3. Factors Affecting Individual’s Intention to Become a Social Entrepreneur

There are good numbers of success stories of social enterprises in India such as Arvind Eye Centre, Barefoot, Farm2Food Foundation, AYZH, Jaipur rugs and Selco Solar. There is a need to the number of such social enterprises in India. This chapter discusses the various factors that affect an individual’s intention to become a social entrepreneur. This study, conducted among students of India’s leading technical institutions, indicates that self-efficacy was found to be the strongest predictor of entrepreneurial intention.
Preeti Tiwari, Anil K. Bhat, Jyoti Tikoria

4. Why Worry About Your Impact? Rationale, Challenges and Support for Indian Social Enterprises’ Impact Measurement

For social enterprises, the impact assessment practice can serve as an important differentiator from its commercial competitors, particularly while attracting impact-focused capital. The development and implementation of impact assessment tools for social enterprises have piqued the interest of academicians as much as it has challenged the practitioners. Followed by a discussion of how social impact is conceptualized in theory, this chapter studies the actual tools used by social enterprises in practice. Recognizing that the interdependence between social enterprises and their funders is deeper as compared with other stakeholders, the chapter details the various tools developed by and for impact investors. It also reviews the challenges and the support available for impact assessment for social enterprises in India.
Anar Bhatt

Sustainable Business Models and Impact Investing


5. Towards a Better Understanding of Business Models of Social Enterprise in an Uncertain Institutional Environment

Social enterprises, like other organizations, need to change their business models under uncertain institutional environment, to sustain. All organizations engaged in the social sector are not social enterprises. The difference is important because to social enterprises, the aim is not only value creation and sustainability but also empowerment of its customers and the local community. This chapter demonstrates how social enterprises survive in uncertain institutional environments through a continuous adaptation of their business models through comparative case studies of two organizations working in the social sector trying to address infrastructure gaps of poor access to electricity and open defecation. It also aims to show the difference in the business models of social enterprises and social businesses that gets revealed when organizations are faced with a dilemma.
Deepika Chandra Verma, Runa Sarkar

6. Circular Social Innovation: A New Paradigm for India’s Sustainable Development

Although there has been a growing focus on social innovations and social enterprises in India over the past decade, the country’s high economic growth based on the linear economic development model is getting clouded by increasing environmental damage, resource scarcity and, paradoxically, persistent poverty for a significant section of the population. Policy makers and businesses around the world are increasingly looking towards the ‘circular economy model’, which aims to enable effective flow of materials, energy, labour and information so that natural and social capital can be rebuilt. This chapter examines the numerous opportunities for social enterprises to contribute to the journey towards a circular economy in India through the paradigm of ‘Circular Social Innovation’ (CSI). It begins by delineating the scope and potential for social enterprises in India by looking beyond the conventional ‘social impact’ domains, given the spectrum of social and environmental challenges in India. Subsequently, it analyses in depth the role and interlinkages between social enterprises, social innovation and circular economy in the context of sustainable development. Next, it proposes and defines CSI as the new paradigm to address the challenges against sustainable development by combining the forces of social innovation, social enterprises and the circular economy. The distinguishing characteristics of this paradigm are illustrated using suitable examples of CSI enterprises from diverse sectors. In conclusion, it highlights the relevance of pursuing the CSI paradigm, given the intensity and interwoven nature of sustainable development challenges in emerging economies like India.
Ashok Prasad, Mathew J. Manimala

7. Social Entrepreneurship Through Micro-Entrepreneurs of Self-Help Groups

Social entrepreneurship focuses on activities that make the world a better place to live in. They address various social issues. One such issue is rural development and eradication of poverty. One way to achieve this is through self-help groups (SHGs). SHG is a practice mostly studied in Indian context. SHG is a homogeneous group of people who have come together with the intention of increasing their income and improving their standard of living and status in the society. SHG is a tool to eradicate poverty and encourage rural development. This study looks into the journey of two women from two SHGs of West Bengal. One SHG is located in a rural area and another in an urban area. SHGs helped them in developing their enterprise. These two social entrepreneurs, in turn, provided livelihood to many women in their localities. They have been instrumental in providing other women in their localities with a decent income. The study found that these SHGs helped not only in the eradication of poverty but also in the empowerment of women by providing them with income and social recognition.
Sangita Dutta Gupta, Susmita Chatterjee

8. Stimulated Innovation Cycle to Serve the Poor: A Case of Mann Deshi Mahila Group

Innovation acts as a tool for capacity building. Social problems do not occur in isolation; hence, a single innovation is not sufficient, instead they require a combination of innovations. As these innovations are directly related to survival needs of the poor, the lag time between idea generation and innovation should be minimized. Considering multiple innovations of Mann Deshi Mahila Group (MDMG), this chapter proposes a stimulated innovation cycle to serve the marginalized. The chapter identifies two types of innovation, namely stratified innovation and sequential innovation. Layered innovation connects two value chains, and sequential innovations are interventions in the same value chain. These two types of innovations are the precursors of each other, thereby generating stimulated innovation cycle.
Balram Bhushan

9. Effectiveness of Impact-Investing at the Base of the Pyramid: An Empirical Study from India

The availability of essential public goods like subsidized education, health care, vocation training, sustainable development and inexpensive microfinance, which are reliable and affordable, is one of the critical challenges stalling the progress of the developing economies. These challenges are further aggravated at the base of the pyramid (BoP). Realizing these critical issues, the impact investment has emerged as a new asset class, which has bundled entrepreneurial passion with available scarce resources to design and implement cost-effective, reliable and scalable market solutions for the BoP creating essential public goods. The empirical context involves the use of case studies of impact-investing firms, which have made a socio-economic difference in the lives of the rural and semi-urban population lying at the BoP in India through impact investments in social enterprises. The analysis and findings reflect the key operating principles of favourable impact-investing in the business ventures at the BoP. These include a focus on the affordability of services, innovation and cost control, local engagement and stakeholder management, local skills and capability building, dynamic leadership and scalability.
Anirudh Agrawal


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