The reality is that whether it is healthcare and education for all or a gainfully employed member for every family, there is an imperative for all of us to ensure that we do our bit for the communities around us
TiE (The India-US Entrepreneurs) is evolving into a formidable force to propel the new post-Covid world. With traditional large monolithic corporate structures either under threat or proven to be incapable of addressing the real needs of job creation and sustainability for the planet, the baton has been passed to entrepreneurs and the social sector to make significant changes happen.
TiE has always been a leader in Pune, in India and the USA in bringing startups and newly minted entrepreneurs centerstage. In the city of Pune, under the leadership of industry doyens like Pratima Kirloskar, Vishwas Mahajan, Kiran Deshpande and now Ravi Nigam, the movement has brought nearly a hundred charter members and triple that number of new entrepreneurs into the fold and other chapters in India, notably Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, which are also flourishing.
It was probably in the fitness of things that a global Special Interest Group for TiE Global would be formed with six of us as a core committee to take social entrepreneurship to the world and create platforms by which impact investors, philanthropic foundations, civil society, government and social enterprises. And in the launch event, two names who need no introduction Desh Deshpande, billionaire Indo-US entrepreneur and now a social evangelist and Sam Pitroda, the initiator of India’s telecom revolution (remember the ISD-STD-PCO booths?) spoke on a subject which is close to all our hearts the scaling of the social sector in India and abroad. Each of us in the core committee participate in various social entities as Board members or co-founders and the impact that we can have by scaling it for a large cross-section of the country’s population has always been a key motivation for our efforts.
Entities that were briefly mentioned at the launch and which will be showcased over the next few months to potential investors and mentors include Educate Girls, an initiative to put rural girls back into school that has transformed the hill areas of Rajasthan. It has made a significant impact in Madhya Pradesh and is now in Uttar Pradesh working with local communities and the Government as part of the overall mission of impaction over 15 million young girls in our country. Some of the other entities are the Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital, which is attempting to eradicate bilateral blindness in Bihar; Goonj, which has specialized in disaster relief and the development of a circular economy that rewards labor with material as well as societal benefits and the Centre for Sustainable Development that is looking at comprehensive reforms in agriculture including revitalizing Farmer Producer Organizations.
Every citizen, corporate and government agency has the ability to do a bit for social causes
Another exemplar, of course, is the Lighthouse Communities initiative which has been inspired by the success of the Skills Lighthouses of Pune, an award-winning program recognized for social impact in Indian smart cities and by the Aspen Institute, USA through their Global Opportunity Youth Network. This program will now be scaled nationally with the support of the National Institute of Urban Affairs and both corporate and philanthropic organizations and it is expected to target a million youth for agency building, counselling, skills development and employment as well as entrepreneurship support a much needed initiative in a job and wages depleted country ravaged by Covid-19.
The reality is that whether it is healthcare and education for all or a gainfully employed member for every family, there is an imperative for all of us to ensure that we do our bit for the communities around us. And as Sam rightly pointed out in his address, it is important for people to roll up their sleeves and get into action on the ground. Pontificating from the comfort of our homes, whether in India or abroad is not the solution to the multiple ills that we have to address with urgency.
Our success at Social Venture Partners India in partnership with national and global entities like the Tata Trusts and the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network was not the amount of funds deployed or the single-minded proposition of sustainable livelihoods. The real success was the focus on venture philanthropy with the hands on involvement of our lead partners and city managers. SVP International has set its sights on a “Reimagine Giving” agenda that we will take worldwide. Why is this important everywhere? In the US, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has brought the festering problems of racial and colour inequities to the surface again and in developing nations, there are multiple issues, including race, gender and environment that will need both funding and participation to be successfully addressed.
We have always wondered in our country when is the right time for everybody to give up the legitimacy chase for money and power and embark on a legacy journey that genuinely adds value to the community. In reality, there is no need for a hard line. Every citizen, corporate and government agency has the ability to do a bit for social causes.
In my own journey, giving started at the age of nine through five hours of week participation in the rural development activities of the Ramakrishna Mission in Jharkhand and the desire to “give back” has only intensified over the decades. Let’s start early and keep giving and truly make the world a better place!