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Ensuring the End User is at the Core of a Business Model: Why I Chose to Be a Social Enterprise

Dr. Parveez Ubed's picture

There is a perfect start, there is a less than perfect start and there is an imperfect start. As a social entrepreneur, the thing I have learned is that it pays to START- even if it’s less than perfect or imperfect.

So, there I was, I had left my job, had no savings, but kept people like Bonti in my mind. But, I had no idea how, or even where to start. 

Eye Research Center (ERC) Eye Care was officially founded in the summer of 2011. With the generous help of my mother, we were just one clinic – in her kitchen – in the heart of the city. Although we had a strong mission, we quickly realized that to the outside world, there was nothing to differentiate us from other ophthalmic clinics spread across the city. But what exactly was ERC Eye Care? We had initially set it up as a sole proprietorship, as it was the cheapest and easiest registration process, but we weren’t strictly a for-profit business. Were we a NGO? Or were we something else entirely?

Can we see ‘a’ patient with tuberculosis?

Dr. Shelly Batra's picture

 World Bank Photo CollectionBack in the 1970s, I was a medical student ready to take on the world. We had a student exchange program, where students from across the world would come to India to visit and learn. One year, there was a group of young doctors from the UK who were excited to be somewhere they could observe ‘rare diseases.’ Seeing the packed hospitals on rounds, they eagerly asked the Professor of Internal Medicine, “May we see a patient with tuberculosis?” The Professor, uncertain of their excitement, replied frankly, “Of course. We don’t just have one, we have wards and wards full!” Tuberculosis (TB) – the infectious disease that primarily targets the lungs - was, and continues to be, anything but a rare disease in India.

2014 India DM Finalist Story: iKure - Paving the Way to Accessible and Affordable Healthcare through Software Development

Carolyn Marie Florey's picture

We traveled down a bumpy, dirt road in the rural areas of West Bengal towards a village called Bolpur. Three hours after leaving Kolkata, the car pulled up to an unassuming concrete building. The health care worker who accompanied us for this ride jumped out enthusiastically and immediately spoke into her megaphone. “Not feeling well?” she called out to the village, “Need a quick check up? Come and visit us for the next hour and a half.” Here, in a small village, at an unassuming building, we had found ourselves at an iKure spot camp.

iKure -  a Kolkata-based social enterprise dedicated to bringing affordable health care to India’s poorest populations -  has created these spot camps as an integral part of their inventive model for a network of health clinics in India’s rural areas. In addition to providing access to doctors and medicine prescriptions, they provide the necessary outreach to tell villagers about where and when the clinics are and how they can access medical consultations and medicine.

Turning on the Spigot for Crisp, Clear Water

On a warm Friday afternoon in the slums of Madhukam, in the heart of Ranchi, India, a middle-aged man arrived at a public water station with two 20-liter containers to fill. The water station - directly adjacent to an open sewage drain - was really just a concerete wall with four pink spigots protruding from its barren surface. On top perched two large, seemingly empty holding tanks of water. The man placed one of his containers under the first spigot and turned the handle. A small flow of water came out. Within a minute, the flow turned into a trickle, and the trickle quickly became nothing. The man moved to the next spigot, and then the next, only to have all four repeat the same pattern. In the end, the man left carrying only six ounces of water in his two 20-liter containers.

Furniture from Palm Trees, Honey Production and Bringing back “Ferka” Weaving

Hartwig Schafer's picture

How we support agribusiness and handicrafts sector in Upper Egypt

Mr. Hartwig Schafer, Country Director for the World Bank meets Egypt DM Grantees.Last week I met 35 entrepreneurs from Assyut, Aswan, Beni Seouf, Cairo, Fayoum, Giza, Luxor , Minya, Qena, Sharkeyya, Sohag. Some of these names aren’t familiar and there is a reason for that…

They had just been awarded 25,000 dollars each through the Egypt Development Marketplace (DM) competition because their businesses have potential to grow, and create jobs for some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in Upper Egypt.

I was struck by the new innovative ideas for example using palm trees to produce handicrafts and high quality affordable furniture. But also by the revival of local industries such as the ancient Upper Egyptian carpet weaving produced by ferka, not only generating income for marginalized girls and women, but also renewing pride in Egypt’s remarkable culture and heritage. Whether producing local honey, or adding value to products through food processing of tomato paste, olive oil or dairy products specifically for low-income families, these businesses had deserved their cash reward.

Opportunities for Innovation at the BoP within India’s Healthcare Industry

Perzen Patel's picture

Healthcare has become one of India’s largest sectors – both in terms of revenue and employment. Although the country’s healthcare industry is projected to continue its rapid expansion, with an estimated market value of US $280 billion by 2020, increased population growth in India’s low-income communities has resulted in a lack of affordable and easily accessible quality healthcare for millions of people.

As a comparison China has 30 hospital beds every 10,000 people, whereas India has only 12. The figures are even more alarming for nurses. In the United States there are 98 nurses per 10,000 people and in India there are only 13.

Despite government efforts to improve widespread access to quality healthcare, India’s existing infrastructure continues to be insufficient resulting in limited treatment options, especially for low-income families.

Recognizing the need for innovation within healthcare, in 2012, Ennovent, a business accelerator, partnered with the University Impact Fund, one of the world’s first student driven impact-investing firms, to research the opportunities available for entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and experts to add value to the Indian healthcare industry.

إذا لم يكن للمشروع مردود اجتماعي، فهو مشروع سيئ

Ehaab Abdou's picture

This is the Arabic version of our blog: "If it's not Social, It's Bad Business".

            نقدم لكم مقالة أخرى في سلسلة المقالات التي نقوم بنشرها عن الريادة المجتمعية والمؤسسات الاجتماعية التى تساهم فى تقديم حلول مبتكرة وشاملة لقضايا وتحديات تنموية هامة في مصر. لقد تحدثت زميلتنا جيل ريتشمند مع الدكتورة ليلى اسكندر رئيسة مجلس إدارة شركة CID للاستشارات ، والتي حازت على جائزة "رواد العمل الاجتماعي للعام" في عام 2006 ، التي تقدمها مؤسسة شواب من خلال المنتدى الاقتصادي العالمي. كما أنها أيضا عضو في مجلس الأجندة العالمية (GAC) للابتكار الاجتماعي ، وتتمتع بخبرة أكثر من 20 عاما فى مجال حماية البيئة وإدارة النفايات الصلبة وإعادة التدوير، بالإضافة إلى التعليم، وتمكين النوع الاجتماعى، وبناء قدرات المنظمات غير الحكومية، وتوليد الدخل في القطاع غير الرسمي، والدفاع عن حقوق الأطفال العاملين. في هذه المقابلة، تحدثنا الدكتورة ليلى عن مفهومها عن "التعلم والكسب" والعمل فى تنمية المجتمع بشكل عام بما فى ذلك دعم قطاع الحرف اليدوية والذى يعتبر من القطاعات الهامة التى سيدعمها برنامج سوق التنمية المزمع إطلاقه بمصر فى أوائل نوفمبر 2012.

If it’s not social, it’s bad business.

Jill Richmond's picture

Here is another entry in a series of articles we are posting to describe the current outlook for social enterprises working on critical issues in Egypt.

The series is based on interviews with leading figures in the social entrepreneurship sector in Egypt and the MNA region.

For the Arabic translation of this blog, click here.

I spoke with Dr. Laila Iskandar the chairperson of CID Consulting, who was awarded the "Social Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2006 at the World Economic Forum by the Schwab Foundation. She is also member of the foundation’s Global Agenda Council (GAC) on Social Innovation. She has over 20 years of experience in: environmental protection, solid waste management and recycling, education, gender-based empowerment, capacity-building of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), income-generation in the informal sector, and advocating for working children. In this interview, she tells us about her ethos of ‘learning and earning.’

SAR DM Grantees speak out about their winning projects on Nutrition

Phoebe Folger's picture

Photo credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development's photostream on FlickrIn light of its increasing mandate to address undernutrition in South Asia, the World Bank, with its partners, held a South Asia Regional Development Marketplace (SAR DM) on Nutrition under the theme: “Family and Community Approaches to Improve Infant and Young Child Nutrition.”

The SAR DM on Nutrition supported the testing of innovative ideas across South Asia to deliver improved nutrition services to pregnant and lactating women and children under two.

The Raw Material that is Waste

Parvathi Menon's picture

Plastic Waste - Photo credit: Innovation AlchemyIt is estimated that every Indian consumes approximately 8 kgs of plastic a year. If even 20% of the total plastic consumed gets into the waste cycle, that equals over a billion kilograms of plastic waste that will be generated in India just this year alone. The per capita figure usage has gone up from 4 Kgs per Indian in 2006 and is expected to grow to 25 Kgs of plastic used by every Indian per year by 2020. Imagine how much plastic waste we will be dealing with by 2020? Seriously alarming. Remember the film Wall E? *sigh*..

The United Nation’s Environment Program published an excellent study about Converting Waste Plastics into a Resource. Describing the pathways for Waste Plastic, the report traces most routes, which invaribly lead to a dumping site or a land fill.Dumping Cycle - Photo credit: Innovation Alchemy

If India alone is producing over a billion kilograms of plastic waste each year – the global figures are huge. While the world tries to figure out how to use less plastic – an equally important focus for Innovation will need to be: What to do with all the plastic that is already in the dumping grounds?

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