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Challenges of Social Entrepreneurship in India

Man needs to give back to the society from which he takes so much during his lifetime. There is an immense need for a corporation to do the same, which is precisely why we have CSR. But are the companies in India doing enough on the social front?

The Indian society is going through an interesting time of transition. We are now looking to move away from being the food bowl of the world to becoming a technology and IT hub. This transition is causing a further increase in the gap between the rich and the poor of the country. While more and more Indians are now a part of the billionaires club, there are now more poor and hungry people on the streets of India than ever before.

Amidst all this there is something else happening too. Social Entrepreneurship is now beginning to take shape in the country very firmly. Young Indians around the country feel that they can change India and a very good number of them decide to actually try it. There are now more social entrepreneurs in India than ever before. Youngsters are no more afraid to try this as a genuine career opportunity.

While social entrepreneurship may not pay as much as other startups can potentially pay, they are actually very satisfying. When you see a child attend school and you know that it is all due to you, well the satisfaction you get is tremendous.

In this article we cover a few big challenges that face the average social entrepreneurs today and how they can fight them.

1.      Funding: Ask any social entrepreneur and they will say they never have enough funds. And it is true. But it is not because there is a lack of funding, rather there is a lack of proper distribution of this funding. While big NGOs have huge pockets, smaller NGOs find it difficult to fund even small projects. So how does one fight the battle of NGO funding? I believe that to do this it is very important for every NGO to have a business model, a way for you to generate funds continuously and sustainably without depending on donations from others. When starting out if you rely on donations to field your way through, then the chances of your success are quite low. You may have enough funds from donations for a while, however you can never really be sure how much will you have in the future and hence cannot plan anything for the future. That really cuts your chances. So it is always important to keep the funding in mind before starting out because only if you have funds can you do something worthwhile.

2.      Lack of skilled man force: It is easy for every social entrepreneur to find volunteers. Set up a stall outside any college and you will easily get 100 volunteers. The challenge is to have volunteers who are really talented in what they are expected to do. For example you want to go and teach computers in an orphanage. However there is no use of your 100 volunteers if they themselves are not fluent with computers. Talented man force is a major concern from most small NGOs. You require dedicated, hard working, committed people who understand your ideologies. Generally there is very little training required to work in an NGO, hence it is important that the NGO takes the initiative to train their volunteers because only then can you get the best out of them.

3.      Lack of a Central Agenda: Many NGOs in India try to focus on everything. Everything is their agenda. What they don’t realize is that if you really want to do something useful, you need t have one central agenda and all your work needs to be focused around it. An NGO working for child education should focus purely on child education and not try and fight for rape victims. I am not saying that they shouldn’t show their support. All I mean is that they shouldn’t forget that their central agenda is Education and priority must be given to education. There are many issues and ills that India faces today. Only if NGOs give their best focused efforts to fight them can they become useful in the fight for the India we dream of.

4.      Lack of Structure: A structure in an organization is very important for a company to get the best out of its employees. It is even more important in an NGO because there is no way to measure the productivity of any employee. Their productivities can only be felt by their colleagues. Hence to get the best out of any team it is important to have proper structure in the team. The hierarchy of order must be maintained in an NGO as much as it needs to be maintained in any other foundation.

5.      Lack of a Plan: You want to change India, so you open an NGO with absolutely no idea of how. That is the stupidest thing a person can do. If you want to see a change in the country you need a plan. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will India. It is a long drawn out process that does require certain amount of thinking. For your NGO to have any impact on the society you need to figure out the what’s, the why’s and the how’s. It will take time and hence it requires you to be patient, just as every other venture you will ever plan out will. Just as a startup will require a business plan an NGO will also require a business plan, without it you feel like lost in a forest with no idea where to go.

NGOs in India need to gear up and work toward the common goal we all have of the India of our dreams. While there are some brilliant ventures out there, changing India in a small way every day, there is still a lot of places in the country that can do with a social entrepreneur courageous and brave enough to go out there and try and change the world.

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