The new book, I Have a Dream by Rashmi Bansal, an Indian economics and management graduate, includes a number of case studies on successful social enterprises. Those profiled include Sulabh International – an organization that promotes sanitation, and Conserve India – an organization that exports handbags made of recycled plastic waste. In addition, the book discusses attributes of social enterprises such as the mission to generate revenue but not only earn a profit, and the need for a single focused entrepreneur to lead the organization.
A SINGLE DETERMINED PERSON IS NEEDED TO START A MOVEMENT
BOOK REVIEW BY DR NAZIR AHMAD GILKAR
The social entrepreneurs work to achieve a social change. They recognize a problem and employ entrepreneurial skills to manage a venture. Business entrepreneurs measure performance in terms of profits and returns. Conversely, social entrepreneurs focus on generating social capital and pursue social goals. The author of the book I Have A Dream, Rashmi Bansal, an economics graduate from Sophia College, Mumbai and an MBA from IIM Ahmadabad says that there are two kinds of people –those who think and those who feel . Thinking- feeling individuals think like entrepreneurs but feel and work in the social interest . Hence , they are ‘social Entrepreneurs’. The book under reference contains inspiring stories of 20 successful social entrepreneurs who found new ways to solve old problems the society was confronted with. The book was first published by Westland Ltd in 2011 and is spread over 336 pages. The contents cover three main segments – Rainmakers , Changemakers and The Spiritual Capitalist).
The first part begins with that social enterprises generate revenues but their primary motive is not to earn ‘profit’. This class of entrepreneurs believe in a new model of doing well and not mere charity. The successful stories developed in well drafted full length case studies include:
- Sulabh International: A Brahmin boy launched a movement that culminated in a revolution in toilets and a rightful place in society for those who once cleaned same.
- Conserve India: It is all about recycling plastic waste to manufacture beautiful export quality handbags. It is a unique value added generation programme.
- Social Venture Fund: it supports 23 companies that generate returns to investors but also address important social issues.
- Rangsutra: it’s an earning venture run by a widow (conflict victim) not to be dependent on others; sources craft items and textiles from villages for the purpose of retailing.
- Super 30: It narrates an amazing story of a mathematics teacher who ran his own coaching center turned his classroom into a unique social experiment. Tutoring poor but meritorious students for IIT JEE in 2008, all the students of super 30 cracked the exam igniting hope in darkness.
The second part makes an observation that a single determined person is needed to start a movement. They are change makers. The success stories of a few social entrepreneurs in this category include:
- A scientific socialist made education his life mission with entrepreneurial spirits. Pratham is the largest NGO in education sector run under public –private partnership. Millions of children across the country are beneficiaries.
- The Naked Truth is a case study of a mass communication professional who through systematic collection, sorting and delivery’ reaches every scrap of waste clothing from someone to use with dignity and wear with pride by the other.
- Inner Engineering is the story of a young MBA who exercised an unconventional choice when he joined Blind Persons’ Association with a view to see application of management principles to the social /development sector.
The third part of the book under the title The Spiritual Capitalist suggests that the ideal of service may be old fashioned. But there are individuals who still prefer to live by this style. Because they believe in purity of purpose and selflessness of spirit can transcend every limitation. Here the cases are like:
- An IIT pass out is leading a movement blending missionary zeal and management practices to feed one million hungry children every day.
- An IIM Calcutta graduate dreamt to perform some service to humanity by establishing a residential facility for orphans, tribal, etc that leads a household of over 500 children now.
The case studies contained in the book are started with a short biographical recital of the concerned social entrepreneurs with their photographs followed by the case contents. Each case study ends with a piece of advice to young entrepreneurs. The book under review has many good lessons for us all. It is written in a novel style and one enjoys reading the text cover to cover time and again. These cases can easily be discussed in the higher education classes, colleges and universities. After going through this book one is motivated to write some cases in this fashion in our context as well.
Author is Principal S P College, Srinagar. He can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org