Social entrepreneurship is an entrepreneurial venture that aims to achieve desired social change in the society and benefits the community at large; especially poor people. It provides new ways to identify and solves large-scale social, cultural and environmental problems. Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to most pressing social problems. Just as entrepreneurs change the face of businesses, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society. Asia-Pacific Region in general and India in particular have become laboratories for social entrepreneurship.
Social entrepreneurship has gained attention as a significant field that shows how critical societal issues can be addressed through innovation, persistence and sustainable results associated with entrepreneurship. By having some world renowned successful social entrepreneurship projects such as; Arvind Eye Care System, Jaipur Foot, ITC e-Chaupal, Hindustan Unilever Shakti Project, Sewa Bank etc.; India is emerging a fast growing country for experimentation and implementation of social entrepreneurship projects. Indian students from IIMs, IITs and reputed universities of USA and Europe are launching new projects of social enterprises and becoming social entrepreneurs. This trend is important and relevant keeping in view the issues and problems of inclusive growth, poverty and inequality in India as these social enterprises are addressing these issues and problems.
The second category under social entrepreneurship is the promotion of livelihood among the poor families and women which provides opportunities to manage income generating activities in agriculture, non-farm, manufacturing, trading and service sectors in rural and urban areas. Agribusiness entrepreneurship focuses on agricultural value chain development with critical role for agriculture enterprises. It is critical that agriculture enterprises are enabled and encouraged to launch and expand businesses, thereby serving as an engine of growth in Asia-Pacific Region where majority of the populations are depended on agriculture and its allied sector for livelihood. Agribusiness entrepreneurship increases the demand of the agribusiness sector that will pave way for the financial success in the farmer’s business operations.
Livelihood promotions, income generating activities and rural entrepreneurship development are integral parts of entrepreneurship in Asia-Pacific context looking to the nature and extent of poverty in many countries. Role of community based organizations, NGOs, Governments and international development agencies is also critical for building capacity of the poor people through livelihood promotions, income generating activities and rural entrepreneurship development. Asia Pacific EDI has strong commitment to work on the all the aspects of livelihood promotion as many countries in Asia-Pacific Region; particularly those with large communities suffer from inadequate access to food and lack of employment both in rural as well as in urban areas.
The third category under this thematic area is social development & women empowerment. Majority among the world’s poor people are living in Asia-Pacific Region and suffering with the problems of social development related to women empowerment, health, education, environment, water & sanitation, urban development and rural development. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are female and millions of the school age children not going in schools are girls. Majority of poor women are suffering with adverse effects of severe malnutrition, which eventually will be their children’s fate as well. Women also bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources and freedom of action they need to fulfil this responsibility. Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, entire society is benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and income increases. In short, communities become more resilient. There is a Chinese proverb that when sleeping women wake, mountains move. When women are empowered, whole families benefit, and these benefits often have ripple effects to future generations. Empowering women is the key element to achieve socio-economic development.
The thematic area of social entrepreneurship is prime concern for Asia Pacific EDI in which it continuously works through its programmes of training, academics, research, publications, project management and consulting.