When it comes to sustainability, we expect the government to take up more responsibility and be held more accountable. But sustainability is not just the government’s responsibility. In fact, sustainability is impossible to achieve without inclusiveness. Commoners and social enterprises too are equally responsible for achieving the goal of a greener and more sustainable environment. Social entrepreneurs, with their innovative and creative ideas, can implement solutions to social and environmental issues. These solutions will influence citizens to participate actively and contribute to sustainability.
The stories of India’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs
Rather than profit, social entrepreneurs are driven by results and impact of a social or environmental enterprise. We have some amazing social entrepreneurs and their inspiring stories outlined below:
Founder of Conserve India, Anita Ahuja is a writer, an artist, and a social entrepreneur. She founded an NGO in the year 1997, embarking upon her journey to sustainability. The social enterprise, Conserve India, aims at recycling plastic, enabling waste management, and promoting resource efficiency.
Learning that the greatest challenge is to recycle plastic, Anita Ahuja and her team worked together to find creative solutions. One such solution was to recycle plastic to transform it into sheets that can then be shaped into jewelry.
The solution not only helped India manage plastic recycling problems but also introduced new employment opportunities. The business model worked on the triple bottom line framework of sustainability, where profits earned were not at the expense of people and planet.
Harish Kande, the co-founder of SELCO Foundation believes that implementing renewable resources and sustainable technologies in rural areas can help the country abolish poverty. Understanding that there can be great profits coming from renewable resources, if implemented and used appropriately, SELCO hopes to make solar technology available to the poor communities of India.
Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy
Social Works and Research Centre (SWRC), the social enterprise of Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy works dedicatedly to address critical social and environmental issues. Roy, with his team, has set up water pumps in rural areas, fixing water scarcity in these villages. Additionally, Roy’s efforts to educate 3 million illiterate and semi-literate villagers of Tilonia (village in Ajmer district in Rajasthan), got him listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME magazine in the year 2010.
Now imagine the impact of having more and more of such pioneering and dynamic social entrepreneurs. If this becomes a reality, India will indeed meet sustainable goals much faster than predicted.
The role of social entrepreneurs in encouraging sustainability
Social entrepreneurs are people who think of innovative and creative ways to solve environmental issues and civic problems. With their entrepreneurial knowledge abilities, social entrepreneurs can trigger social change easily. While we have a long way to go before meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, the support coming from social entrepreneurs is commendable and noteworthy. Let's check out the role of social entrepreneurs in achieving sustainable goals as:
An educator - Social entrepreneurs can play a significant role in alleviating poverty in India. For example, social entrepreneurs can conduct training sessions for farmers, explaining them about the importance of cost-effective agricultural techniques. This method of farming forgoes the use of hazardous chemicals and other supplements, unlike regular agriculture techniques. As a result, crop production costs will reduce. In addition, as organic food products can be sold at a higher price, farmers can make high profits too. Social entrepreneurs can also help farmers by taking care of the paperwork required for getting loans from fintechs.
An agent of change - Social entrepreneurs can encourage citizens to use sustainable products. These products can find a place in our day-to-day lives. For example, a wooden toothbrush, recyclable fabrics, stainless steel or copper bottles, and similar such items.
A campaign leader - By running effective awareness campaigns on sustainable practices, social entrepreneurs can influence citizens to join the league. Campaigns to promote the adoption of renewable resources, drive less and reduce carbon footprint, buy and eat organic food, and recycle plastic. All of this will surely create groundbreaking and long-lasting impact on people and the natural habitat.
Indeed, social entrepreneurs are engines of sustainable development. Hence, India needs to have more social entrepreneurs. To increase the number of social entrepreneurs, the government can offer special benefits to such individuals that will influence and compel them to become entrepreneurs. Allocation of sufficient funds and other technical and manpower support should also be considered by governmental agencies and private corporations. Such assistance will allow resource-limited social enterprises to boost sustainable practices without any hindrance.