Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen.org
I went to the TiE Villgro UnconventionL event on social entrepreneurship @ Taj Connemara, Chennai, India, held on Wednesday, December 10, ’14. Here’s the list of speakers and agenda.
Social Entrepreneurship is doing business with a Soul. While most people want to work for large companies or start their own business, there are a few who opt to become social entrepreneurs to provide affordable products and services that will benefit the masses in the low-income group. In this business, in addition to profits, people want to create an impact and better lives with their work.
Micro-finance to fund rural businesses, building toilets where there are none, healthcare for people who can’t afford, reaching education to the poor, solar lights for off-grid homes, etc. are all examples of social/impact businesses.
The TiE Villgro UnconventionL event seeks to connect all stakeholders working in the social/impact business space with investors, and create a vibrant ecosystem for social businesses to thrive in India. They are holding this event in multiple cities across India, and this event was held in Chennai.
I don’t want to start a business in this sector, but I went there to learn about businesses that are making their mark in this space. I want to give a short introduction to some interesting and useful social/impact businesses in my blog. I did learn much, and I’ll share a few stories in the future.
Around 170 people had submitted their business ideas, and the top three were honored with cash prizes in today’s event. I don’t remember who won, but among the finalists – one was developing affordable digital X-Rays, another an automatic feeder for people without hands, another an automatic reaper to help farmers reap the crops, etc.
There were a couple of speeches by the organizers and discussion sessions with business owners, angel investors, and investment bankers that threw more light on the sector and clarified the process of getting funds for social/impact businesses.
Technology, products, and services should not only benefit the rich, but it should also reach the masses and poor – they need it more. Basic amenities like food, toilet, education, healthcare and energy – all that we take for granted – has not reached millions of people but we choose to be blissfully ignorant. I’d like to see more among us getting involved in the social/impact business space. Not just because it’s good Karma, but also because it can be profitable. At the least, we can spread the word about people and businesses that are making a difference to the society.