Sunday, August 1, 2010
Making a change to change makers
Although there is no unified definition of social enterprise worldwide, many believe that social enterprises are just like for profit enterprise since they operate in the same context, and since any type of business only exists as a result of demand from society, there is no difference between social enterprise and any other enterprise. On the other hand, many people from NPO backgrounds, think that classifying social enterprises as one type of ‘for profit business’ will cause confusion in civil society.
So, what is a social enterprise and who is a social entrepreneur? One can find dozens if not hundreds of different definitions across the world. A British Insititue even refers to social enterprise as a ‘state of mind’ because it is really about where your values lie.
To me a social enterprise is one founded by an individual or a small group of close individuals with a common dream, working transparently and honestly, with an objective to bring cultural and/or social and/or economic and/or health (mental/physical) changes.
1KG is a charitable program in China. It was created by Yu Zhihai who once worked as an advertising agent and a Webmaster. As he found himself moved by the poverty he observed while visiting remote regions, he established 1KG to appeal for independent charity works especially for tourists while traveling.
The project calls on self reliant travelers to bring along with them an additional kilo of books or stationery for distribution to impoverished schools and children at their destinations. Participants are called 1KGers on the Net. YU believes that anyone, whether rich or poor, can do something for the less well-off - and for anyone who enjoys backpacking, it happens to be very easy to do.
As you read this a Patient may be critically ill. Whether he lives or dies depends on whether a unit of blood of the right type is available. People run about from pillar to post for a unit of blood in their own city or some another city. There are times when a patient dies for want of blood. And there are time when unscrupulous elements sell blood for money . By donating blood one can make a difference between LIFE and DEATH. With this in mind Khusroo Poacha from Nagpur created Indianblooddonors.com. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari , from the most common blood group to the rarest, the helpline has a huge database of blood donors. It's simple, effective and free and can match you with a donor near you in seconds. Needless to say Poacha has time and again turned down offers to monetize his initiative and earn millions of dollars on offer.
In Dayi county, 50 kms from Chengdu, more than 40% of the farmers raise rabbits, and the profits it brings are higher than other agricultural industries, Many farmers attribute their success to Ren Xu Ping, the famous China Rabbit King. Ren XU Ping started Xuping Rabbit Food company thirty years back with a scythe , a pack backet and two rabbits. Today he is rich, far from being the poor boy that he was with bitterness in his heart. He became happy as he learned to share successful experiences with poor families and making them rich. As of today, more than 0.3 million students have graduated from his training school, most of who have become rich through rabbit husbandary. Out of these around 100 have become millionaires.
The above are just a few examples of social entrepreneurs who I really admire, and am proud to say that the second viz Poacha is a good friend of mine too. Speaking about social entrepreneurs let’s now also speak about the second line social entrepreneurs, the faceless ones rallying behind these social entrepreneurs and the people who help these social entrepreneurs ride towards their goals.
One has only one life but given a choice the same life can make differences in the lives of many people. But how big do we draw the circle as it seems that bigger the circle bigger the sacrifices one have to make . Should the circle be drawn around one's family and close friends or wider, and if wider how wide?. How does one discern and perform the duties one has to one’s family and the dream of making a difference for others who are not remotely even connected. If one chooses a wider circle where would one be eventually headed and would one look back after a few years and stand as confused as one were at the start.
The second line social entrepreneurs are unconventionals who have ideological dreams but as of yet do not have their own independent ideas. Yet, accidentally or by choice rally behind the first line social entrepreneurs towards a shared dream. They may be highly qualified people or the not so qualified, but which ever, have sacrificed a great deal in making the decision to draw the circle just a little wider. At the same time the risk of ignorantly living someone’s dream without reward is high and the dividing line between happiness and the realization that they may have lost many precious years and the chance to accumulate those precious bucks is very thin. They are people who believe that life seems to be guided or channeled by an extra hand and that one is helplessly carried along with the flow towards a destined goal. They may seem just like the next ordinary person but are actually visible or not so visible social misfits who want to have normal lives and relationships but lack certain finishing that they may end up hurting people they care about/love unintentionally. If judged in conventional parameters, there would not be much that pleases too.
The point is if you have come across any of these second line social entrepreneurs, be a little kinder to them and just open your heart a little more to accommodate second or third chances. They may lack in many areas but one common unfailing trait is that they are heart persons and would eventually reciprocate your kindness many multiples eventually, if not by them directly at least by the virtuous divine hand. Bring one down and his circle suffers.