Excellence in Social Entrepreneurship

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India CSR News Network 

NEW DELHI: Following a rigorous due diligence process, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the sister organization of the World Economic Forum and the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation today announced the finalists of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY)- India 2016 Award. The finalist are:

Shanti Raghavan and Dipesh Sutariya of EnAble India, Bengaluru

Neichute Doulo of Entrepreneurs Associate, Kohima

Vikas Shah of WaterHealth India Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad

Mrinalini Kher of Yuva Parivartan, Mumbai

Hilmi Quraishi and Subhi Quraishi of ZMQ, New Delhi

The winner will be chosen by a distinguished jury and announced at an awards ceremony on October 6, 2016 in New Delhi. Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road, Transport, Highways and Shipping will be the Chief Guest and present the award. This year the SEOY award ceremony is part of the India Economic Summit organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The finalists of the SEOY India – 2016 Awards are building vibrant eco-systems in the fields of disability; skilling, employment and entrepreneurship; health; water sanitation and hygiene; and technology for development. They are working to equip isolated and marginal communities & to change behaviours and take charge of their own lives. All five enterprises are working through government partnerships to bring fresh ideas in flagship initiatives of the country such as Smart City, Skill India, Start Up India and Digital India.

According to Mrs Hilde Schwab, Co-founder & Chairperson, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, “We are delighted to see that this year’s finalists are all strong contributors to the key social priorities of the Government of India. They are all operating at significant scale across regions including north eastern India, and supporting social and economic inclusion in many ways – by creating access to basic services, skills and digital connectivity.”

Congratulating the finalists, Shyam S Bhartia, Chairman & Founder and Mr. Hari S Bhartia, Co-Chairman & Founder, Jubilant Bhartia Group and Founder Directors of Jubilant Bhartia Foundation, said, “We are happy that over the last seven years we have been able to create an annual platform, where social entrepreneurs across the country are recognized. The winner gets a chance to join the world’s largest network of social enterprises affiliated with The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. This enhances their professional linkages and offers them an opportunity to learn from peer groups. This year, the finalists have shown a dedication towards diverse social issues like inclusion of specially able people, mainstreaming of youths in conflict areas through Entrepreneurship, Technology for development, employability, drinking water etc. which require urgent attention.”

The SEOY Awards, India 2016 opened in March this year and received over 100 applications of exceptional quality. Through a five-stage selection process, the finalists were shortlisted after on-site visits, background research, reference checks and multiple rounds of deliberations. 

Descriptions of the Finalists 

Shanti Raghavan and Dipesh Sutariya, EnAble India (EI), Bengaluru, Karnataka

EnAble India (EI) is rapidly building the Indian eco-system of skilling, employment and entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities (PwDs). Through technology innovations, breakthroughs in skill trainings, new workplace solutions and behaviour change tools, EI has opened up a vast and untapped talent pool for India’s job markets, and demonstrated a robust business case for employment of PwDs in the private sector.

Over 15 years, EI has transformed the lives of 1,32,000 individuals with disabilities, families, community leaders and employers. It works across 28 states in partnership with 600 companies, 189 civil society organizations, state and central government agencies and universities. EI is the only social enterprise in India to skill and place PwDs across 11 disability categories (including severe disabilities such as mental health, autism spectrum disorders, deaf-blind, and intellectual disabilities).

EI transforms stakeholders across the entrepreneurship and employment continuum. At one end, it meets the unique learning and training needs of PwDs, their families, and universities. At the other, it partners with businesses and governments to open up new roles, trigger new workplace solutions, provide recruiting supports, conduct accessibility audits, recommend the adoption of barrier-free infrastructure and technologies, and train employers and managers to be adaptive and inclusive.

This value chain approach has raised the bar for staff performance, workplace behaviours and employment practices across all levels. Persons with disabilities are intrinsically motivated to perform a par with their non-disabled peers. Parallely, as businesses learn to adapt to disability, they learn to adapt and include other segments of diverse, unconventional and disadvantaged talent.

EI trainees earn salaries that are at par with their non-disabled peers. 81% of those who are placed in urban jobs are primary bread earners for their families – flipping stereotypes on their head.  Annual salaries earned by EI candidates range across INR 65000 to INR 18 Lakhs (over the informal and formal sectors respectively).

The EI model is now scaling through the collaboration and open-source route across India and 11 countries. To accelerate eco-system building, EI has set up EnAble India Academy -India’s first on-line skills and jobs aggregator for PwDs. EI is also a partner with NSDC/Skill India and on the governing council of the Skills Council for PwDs. 

Neichute Doulo, Entrepreneurs Associate (EA), Kohima, Nagaland

 Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) was set up in 2001 to counter insurgency, a broken economy and the landscape of despair among the Naga people. It aimed to do so by building the spirit of self-reliance and entrepreneurship into the psyche of an apathetic Naga youth.

Over 20 years, EA has successfully launched the first generations of Naga and Manipuri entrepreneurs; built up vibrant local markets; catalysed local production; generated local jobs; activated financial institutions and steered government will to demonstrate that entrepreneurship can be the route to peace building.

For Neichute and his team, an entrepreneur is one who solves problems. Thus, EA set up North-East India’s first incubator, accelerator and eco-system builder for local entrepreneurs. Over two decades, the venture has directly impacted 60,000 individuals across Nagaland and Manipur by putting them on the path of wealth and value creation.

EA trains first-time entrepreneurs from the agriculture and non-agriculture sectors. It then lays out a broad safety net for them. It offers credit, intense hand-holding, business acceleration programs, and in certain cases, stands as guarantor for bank loans. In the absence of financial institutions for early-stage entrepreneurs, EA has set up EATACOL – a thrift and credit society- and an NBFC through which loans of upwards of two lakhs are provided to local businesses. These financing mechanisms have enabled EA to place ‘big bets’ on its entrepreneurs and encourage them to grow into small and medium enterprises.

Over two decades, EA has harnessed 1150 faith based organizations, national banks and private banks, the North-East Development Finance Corporation, the National Rural Livelihoods Mission and the University of Nagaland to infuse capital of upto INR 150 crores  with 100% recovery.  From 2000 to 2008, Neichute and his team ran crowd funding programs that generated INR 20 crores from local citizens in building the culture and environment of entrepreneurship in Nagaland.

EA’s action on the ground has steered government policies in favorable directions. In a state where entrepreneurship was alien, the government of Nagaland declared the years 2010-2012 as the ‘Year of the Entrepreneur’. Schools, university and college campuses are turning into active trainings grounds for new generations of entrepreneurs.

As EA scales to Burma, the model holds out new possibilities of peace-building in regions around the world that are experiencing civil and political conflict.  

Vikas Shah, WaterHealth India Pvt Ltd (WHIN), Hyderabad, Telangana

By 2025, India will become a water stressed country. Today, 30% of urban Indians and 90% of rural households depend on untreated surface or ground water with high contamination levels for their drinking and cooking needs. Unsurprisingly, 37.7 million Indians are affected with water borne diseases and health disorders annually.

WaterHealth India (WHIN) sets up networks of decentralized, community water purification systems to provide safe, high quality and affordable water to underserved rural and urban communities. These WaterHealth centers treat raw, ground water through a six stage purification process, meeting stringent WHO and ISO drinking water standards (IS10500). The treated water is then dispensed under the brand name of dr. water, for nominal user fee of 6- 8 rupees for 20 liters of water.

WHIN identifies and operates in geographies that are water-stressed- with low ground water tables, high contamination levels and broken water supply and distribution systems. Over 10 years, it has successfully installed over 400 WaterHealth Centers which serve five million consumers across 1,800 villages and urban local bodies of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi. Excellence in execution and process rigour have enabled WHIN to scale its decentralized model to Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.

Community ownership makes up the spine on which all WaterHealth Centers function. They are set up through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) where the land, raw water source and electricity are provided by the community or the urban local body. WHIN raises funds, constructs the purification plant and enters into a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement with the local government for a concession term of 15-20 years. The WaterHealth centers are managed by local Business Associates and serviced through delivery entrepreneurs — all drawn from the community. To forge long-term behaviour change in hygiene and sanitation, WHIN runs inventive community campaigns that identify and celebrate local water and WASH  heroes champions. Thus, the model by design triggers high emotional connect between users and their community water centers.

A stringent eye on quality has yielded measurable impact. 85% of WHIN customers live below the poverty line. Consumers of dr.water experience a 17% reduction in the incidences of water borne illnesses. Households that draw water from WHC can potentially save INR 4714 annually and add 25 workdays per family per year due to reduction in medical expenditure, decrease in drudgery and increase in productive engagement.

Mrinalini Kher, Yuva Parivartan/Kherwadi Social Welfare Association (KSWA), Mumbai

84.5 million of India’s youth live below the poverty line (the highest in the world), accounting for 44.2% of the total youth population. Lack of education, geographical remoteness, poverty and a cultural disconnect with urban jobs are only some the barriers that stack up for youth from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families as they access livelihoods with dignity.

Over 20 years, Yuva Parivartan has been making employability and skill training accessible and affordable to the large segment of India’s BPL youth who live in remote and hostile regions. It builds last-mile access, through a web of Livelihoods Development Centers and mobile training camps,  that penetrate deep into inaccessible tribal areas. Together they offer a wide bench of quality skill training programs to youth at one-tenth the fee of other providers.

YP takes its trainings to spaces where BPL youth live, work and hang out. It sets up a Livelihood Development Centre or LDC in the heart of the slum/tribal area and then fans out further inland through its mobile camps. The YP curriculum stands out for its emphasis on not only the skill building aspect but also its design that encourages individual development and growth. YP understands that it’s not merely placement that matters, it’s also discipline and fortitude. Thus its ‘soch ka parivartan’ urriculum is aimed at bolstering the self-esteem of the young person and arming them with conflict resolution skills.

Every year, over 1 lakh youth across 18 states access YP’s training programs every year. 60% are placed in jobs or set up their own ventures, with average incomes increasing by a favourable 32%.

To dramatically scale its services, YP is now professionalizing and aggregating small community organizations, tutorial centers and training institutes that operate in remote areas, into a nationwide employability network. With over 300+ partners and NSDC on-board, YP is preparing to take the leap into the digital world through its Yuva Parivartan Livelihood Exchange model – an online portal where information on prospective employees and employers is uploaded, thus widening the employability network for marginalized youth. 

Hilmi Quraishi and Subhi Quraishi, ZMQ, New Delhi

ZMQ builds ‘technology for change’ programs and puts them in the hands of rural communities to increase their access to, and uptake of, critical health, education and livelihoods services.

A global pioneer in the field of Technology for Development (T4D), ZMQ has implemented more than 100 ICT-based social change models in domains such as reproductive health; maternal and child health; Polio, TB, HIV/AIDs management; disability and mental health; financial inclusion; youth development and adolescent behavior change. By collaborating actively with governments, international agencies, technology service providers, telecom companies and grassroots players, ZMQ has impacted 22 million lives across India, Afghanistan, six African and two Latin American countries.

Isolated, marginal and semi-literate communities form the backbone of ZMQ’s T4D programs. It engages them actively in the design and development of its ICT models. This community-connect transforms the behaviors of users. From silent ‘beneficiaries’ of livelihoods, education and health programs, they become active digital citizens who own and use technology to demand, consume, critique and re-steer the services of government, civil society and social enterprises.

ZMQ integrates mobile, internet, intranet, electronic and print media technologies to develop behavior change tools (such as games, apps and story-telling platforms); data collection and information management systems; training kits for players across the value chain and; in-built program monitoring and impact evaluation systems. These fully-Technology Linked Models (f-TML) are embedded within government machineries that deliver critical rural development programs. They quickly drive up the impact and efficiencies of resource-starved rural schemes and interventions.

To illustrate, ZMQ’s multi-purpose mobile toolkit for TB treatment in Haryana has shifted the responsibility of treatment compliance to patients and their families, reduced the leg- work and paper-work of the DOTs program, deepened the quality control and audit process within the RNTCP system, weeding out corruption and inaccuracies in reporting.

This “One Rupee” technology company has maintained the cost per beneficiary within the range of 40-55 paisa for all it’s scaled up projects. By shaping the field of Technology for Development through indigenously-developed, ‘Make in India’ technologies, Hilmi and Subhi Qureshi see ZMQ as a “Gandhian model’ of technology for change.

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