Saturday, August 23, 2008

First serious stab at Social Entrepreneurship

I have joined a certification course in Social Entrepreneurship in an "NGO B-school" called Centre for Social Initiative and Management. The center is run as a non-profit initiative to attract professionals into non-profit so that a social problem can be solved permanently with "problem-solving" mentality rather than temporarily "philanthropic" mentality. The course lasts for 18 sessions which include classroom discussion, home works, case study, field project to find a solution to social problem partnership with one of 30 NGOs. The best part is it costs not in lakhs, or tens of thousands, but a mere Rs. 5000. and you get a copy of "How to change the world". How is that?

Talking about philanthropy and non-profit, it only makes sense to share the spoils with everybody. Free of cost. In this series of post, I will go through the proceedings of each session so that it helps socially inclined readers (if there are any) with some ideas or inspire them to take up this course, or just with plain boredom! :)

Today's session saw an introduction to two broad topics
1. Social Entrepreneurship and its criteria
2. Leadership

1.Social Entrepreneurship
We watched an hour-long video on Aravind Eye hospital and Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy and discussed his and the hospitals characteristics with relevance to social entrepreneurship. We identified
  • Human welfare as priority
  • Targeted social vision and area of intervention (Eye care)
  • Sustainability (those who pay for care, also cover cost of treating the poor)
  • Innovation (Indeginous low-cost lens production facility)
  • Partnership with government, poor people, other non-profits and for-profit businesses

Also discussed about various know social entrepreneurs like Vikram Akula (SKS microfinance), M.S.Swaminathan (Green revolution in India) and identified keen social acumen, leadership, aspiration, social impact, and ethics like abiding by the law as criteria for social entrepreneurship.

2. Leadership
This topic was handled by a retired officer of The Indian Army and he had a lot of anecdotes from the his life in the Army training camp, Siachin glacier and Srinagar. He discussed about different shades of leadership starting from an autocratic leader at one extreme and a laissez-faire leader at the other of which Servant Leadership would be the most suitable for a social entrepreneur.

Further we discussed several characteristics that differentiate a leader and a manager. In short, there were too take-aways as per my understanding.
  1. A manager implements an already identified solution using a known way. A leader finds a solution to a problem and implements it in an innovative way, if need be.
  2. Management is a sub-set of leadership
We also discussed briefly about Leaadership Pipeline, a concept introduced to address the dearth of indigineous leadership in companies. Apart from the book recommended (as given in the link) for this quite a few other books and website were recommended. Here is a list.

Leading from the edge: By N.T. Perkins
Shackleton's way: Margot Morrell and Stafanie Capparell


My overall, my first impression is very good. I mainly like the variety and the enthusiasm in the class which is about 15 strong. Though the majority are software engineers, it is also represented by people from educational field of which one is a school principal, two chemical scientists (and professors) and one foreigner (His name is Tahir, and I think he is an African!).

The faculty so far seem to be very knowledgeable and experienced. Prof. K.L Srivastava, the director of the center, had been a scientist in ICRISAT specialising in water management for agricultural irrigation and has been active in social forums like Social Edge.

However, there could be some improvement in the presentation of the lecture
1. Powerpoint was used through out the lecture, but a lot of the lecture was read out of the slides. This was followed up by elaborate discussions which brought out the expertise of the lecturer, but the "reading out" part took the interest out of the lecture.

2. Such course should encourage classroom discussions at every opportunity available. Though fair amount of classroom discussion did take place, there were also instances in which a student added a point to the slide, but the lecturer seemed to have moved on to his next point without addressing his point. This should be changed.

Finally, I felt that I have already recovered my Rs. 5000/- and it is just the first class. Very good start.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What programme is this?