Social Entrepreneurs Changing The World

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Social entrepreneurs create win-win solutions

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Creating win-win with social entrepreneurship

Our drive out of Bangalore to visit one of the Rural Shores centre brings pleasant relief from the bustling busyness of Indian city life. The open road leads us swiftly past neat vineyards and striking hilltops and after an hour or so we arrive at the school building, of which Rural Shores rents a portion.

Rural Shores brings income to rural communities by employing young people for the capturing and processing of information on behalf of their clients. Most of their clients are from corporate India, but they are increasingly receiving interest from large companies from abroad too.

The head office in Bangalore acquires Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) contracts for their ten centres scattered throughout rural India to fulfil. At these centres young people are trained in computer use and then employed to turn hard-copy forms into digital information. In this way they create a win-win solution for all.

The rural communities receive income through the wages earned by the young people working at the centres, as well as through the rental of facilities for the operations of the centres; and the corporate clients achieve efficiencies through the cost-effective outsourcing of non-key processes. In short, the corporate clients reduce costs and save time; while young people from rural communities get an income and gain dignity.

We are fortunate to be invited to the home of one of the employees. She lives with her husband and two young children in a tiny two-roomed house in the nearby village. As we enter the house, I notice a lifeless body on the floor. She stiffens in her tracks, then she steps over her sleeping drunk husband, as if he does not exist. And when she eventually speaks tearfully, we hear the sad story of a young woman who is making a life for her children against many odds.

Rural Shores created an opportunity for her to feed her family and, from what she manages to save every month, she is paying towards an education policy for her children. What a powerful illustration of the effect this company (and for that matter social entrepreneurship) has on the lives of people.

This company was launched by business professionals who wanted to make a contribution towards creating win-win solutions – in this instance by contributing towards the country’s rural development priorities, by creating income for people living in rural areas, and by offering companies cost-effective outsourcing options.

Here we have a great example of how a little out-of-the-box thinking can lead to the establishment of a social enterprise where a sustainable business is created. This business does not only address a dire need in under-developed communities (in the form of jobs and income for young people); it also provides compelling commercial benefits to the paying customers (in the form of cost- and time-effective business process outsourcing).

Praise to the business professionals who initiated Rural Shores! Or shall we call them social entrepreneurs?

Here we see how initiative by a few social entrepreneurs, who are already involved in other business activities, can create a new social enterprise with great impact. Their experience and involvement in other businesses – perhaps even large corporations – elevates the capacity of the social enterprise to achieve great results.

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