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Social Entrepreneurship in India

Social Entrepreneurship in India
Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism

  • Madhukar Shukla - Chairperson, Fr Arrupe Centre for Ecology and Sustainability, and Professor (Strategic Management & OB) at XLRI Jamshedpur, India

February 2020 | 284 pages | SAGE Response
While the phrase ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ sounds oxymoronic, it certainly is not an unfamiliar concept in the Indian market and society. India is a hub of social entrepreneurship and has a long history of doing business for social causes. The business giants like Amul, Aravind Eyecare, Lijjat, Sulabh Shauchalay, etc. have been solving social problems through entrepreneurial strategies since ages. Inspired by tech giants like Uber or Paytm, aspiring entrepreneurs are looking for problems that can be solved through new business ideas. The emergence of social entrepreneurship as an identifiable sector and as a discipline/field of study has become a social phenomenon. The book starts with tracing the historical roots and the milestone which have led to the recent emergence of social entrepreneurship as a recognized sector of practice and study. Rather than fitting ‘social entrepreneurs’ in a box, it identifies the qualities and patterns of successful social entrepreneurs, both as a person and how they function. Sifting through these diverse approaches to solve social problems, it proposes five broad but distinct types of Indian social entrepreneurs. It describes how social entrepreneurs, like any other entrepreneur, identify opportunities and gaps in the ‘market’, develop innovative solutions to address those problems, and use entrepreneurial strategies to build and scale their ventures.It also discuss the key problems of access to basic social goods (e.g., education, healthcare, credit, etc.) by the poor segment of Indian society, the challenges in servicing this segment and successful entrepreneurial models which social entrepreneurs use to impact their lives. As scaling the impact is an essential requirement for the social entrepreneurs to make a difference in the society and lives of people, the book also discusses three different ways in which social entrepreneurs scale, and the prerequisites and challenges in scaling.

Foreword by Professor Muhammad Yunus
A Term in Search of a Definition
The ‘Entrepreneur’ in Social Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurial Thinking: A Method to the Madness
Social and Commercial Entrepreneurship
Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism
Strategies for Scaling the Impact
Five Archetypes of Social Entrepreneurship
Unequal Access: ‘Markets of the Poor’
Entrepreneurial Models for Providing Access

In his very well-researched book, Professor Shukla draws lessons from over 120 Indian social entrepreneurs and changemakers to present a compelling narrative on the power of entrepreneurial thinking to create transformative change for some of society’s most pressing problems. His book is very timely because India (and the world) faces sizable challenges if we are to chart a future that is sustainable, equitable and just for all segments of society. Professor Shukla explains how complex societal challenges are also windows of opportunity for transformative solutions that can drive change that benefits society. Highly recommended for individuals, donors and policy makers seeking inspiration and ideas on how to build an ecosystem that promotes sustainable enterprises with purpose and soul.

M Hari Menon
India Country Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Madhukar Shukla has created an architecture that defines and places the rise of social entrepreneurship in India as no one else has done supporting it with numerous real-life examples of entrepreneurs and models. It is a compulsive read for anyone interested and willing to invest in social entrepreneurship.

Mahesh Yagnaraman,
India Country Director, Acumen

Madhukar Shukla’s book is a comprehensive yet very readable treatment of the subject. He covers a vast ground, from the definition of social enterprise to the attributes of a social entrepreneur, going on to tackling the different stages of a social enterprise in each chapter, all the way till scaling up. In each chapter, he uses appropriate theoretical inputs by various scholars and peppers those with apt examples of real social enterprises. This inter-weaving of theory and practice makes the book useful for both students of the field as well as for practitioners. I think this book is a landmark addition to the understanding of this emerging trend in society, which many claim will be the unique institutional solution of the 21st century.

Vijay Mahajan,
CEO, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation; Founder, BASIX Social Enterprise Group

This book is the most comprehensive account of the social enterprise ecosystem in India. It also provides the most elaborate historical account of the evolution of social enterprises and the inspiration behind the first set of social enterprises including Amul, Grameen and SEWA. The book examines the crucial drivers and values which underpin the social enterprises. A very important and recommended text for students, researchers and practitioners alike. Based on hosting many social enterprises at XLRI, Professor Madhukar Shukla provides rich and empirical insight into the functioning and characteristics of these enterprises.

Parmesh Shah,
Global Lead, Rural Livelihoods and Agriculture, World Bank

Madhukar Shukla’s Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism is a unique exploration of social entrepreneurship in India, both in theory and practice, fleshing out rich experiences from a repertoire of 120 social ventures and offering valuable insights. It is an absorbing tale of lessons from these real life social ventures which use and apply innovative approaches and models to the country’s most pressing problems. The book is interesting, stimulating and informative, and sure to serve as an inspiration for anyone battling between profit and purpose.

Vipin Sharma,
Chief Executive Officer, ACCESS Development Services

Social enterprises do not succeed or scale easily, given the challenge they grapple with, while trying to fuse social causes with profitable business models. Passionate social entrepreneurs craft them with considerable artistry through a lot of idealism and some trial and error. Often, even with the benefit of hindsight, some of them cannot explain why they succeeded. Certainly not to the extent another entrepreneur can replicate the ‘model’.

In this backdrop, Madhukar’s book is a boon to this domain. He analyses how the ‘markets of the poor’ are different, where the ‘opportunity structures’ exist, describes the various ‘entrepreneurial models that enable the poor to access markets’ and places the different ‘archetypes of social entrepreneurship’ in that context.

The book is a must-read for both the ‘been there, done that’ social entrepreneurs intending to scale, and the ‘wannabe’ entrepreneurs looking at social problems to engage with or, for that matter, even for the social impact funds trying to make sense of the proposals they receive all the time.

S. Sivakumar,
Group Head, Agri and IT Businesses, ITC Limited

Madhukar’s academic interest in social entrepreneurship and his deep engagement with its practitioners over the past several years has culminated in the publication of this well researched and superbly articulated book on entrepreneurship. The book comprehensively reviews a wide spectrum of impact approaches, highlights how entrepreneurs have created new markets for products and services, and lays it out for the reader to appreciate the nuances of each model and approach. At a time when entrepreneurship appears to be the hope for addressing social, economic and environmental challenges facing India as well as the world, Madhukar has enriched existing entrepreneurship literature with a solid framework based on the actual work of several mission-driven people. I congratulate Madhukar for having authored a book that keeps the reader engaged all through, while cleverly navigating a complex web of market dynamics intermingled with issues of social impact and market failure.

Manoj Kumar,
Founder and Chair, Social Alpha (Tata Trusts)

Professor Madhukar Shukla is one of the first Indian academicians in the area of social entrepreneurship. This book Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism covers every fundamental aspect of social entrepreneurship which any reader would find easy to understand. Systematic presentation of history of social entrepreneurship, especially in India, has also been nicely presented in the book. This book is a true depiction of social entrepreneurs and social enterprises, and would be of immense value to the students, teachers, researchers and the social entrepreneurs.

Satyajit Majumdar,
Professor, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India

The book by Professor Madhukar Shukla on social entrepreneurship is welcome addition to the fast-growing domain. The book fulfils the need of many teachers of courses in India who have been looking for a book with not just Indian examples but also Indian perspectives. The book examines the models, ideas and challenges of Indian social entrepreneurs with an intimate understanding of the domain, empathy for the journeys of social entrepreneurs and a critical lens that helps us navigate the diversity of experiences and insights. The chapters are well structured and explain concepts without too much of academic jargon and are easy to read and comprehend. The book is an extremely valuable addition which would inspire the next generation of social entrepreneurs as well as the researchers to build an Indian understanding of the field. Research on social entrepreneurship from India has insufficiently reflected Indian perspectives and nuances that Professor Shukla brings out admirably in this book. For those looking for ways to combine purpose and profit here is a valuable resource for inspired pragmatism.

C. Shambu Prasad,
Professor of Strategy and Policy, IRMA (Indian Institute of Rural Management, Anand

Social entrepreneurship is a much-cluttered term, without a clear definition and many enterprises claiming to be ‘social’ in nature. In this context, this new book picks up diverse examples of social enterprises and examines them to see what makes them tick, why are they indeed social and what is the nature of entrepreneurship.

What is fascinating about Professor Shukla’s book is the sheer diversity of examples that he picks up from across the sectors and puts them through an analytical frame to make us unclutter the space and provide clarity. The book at one level is an encyclopaedia on the Indian social enterprise sector in terms of information, and at another, a treatise that adds much to clarity, classification and codification of the sector.

Professor Shukla’s annual conferences on social entrepreneurship in Jamshedpur have been legendary, and this was a much-awaited culmination of several years of such deep scholarly engagement.

M. S. Sriram,
Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Development of Research in Banking Technology (Reserve Bank of India) and Professor of Public Policy, IIM, Bangalor

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ISBN: 9789353882372

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