The thorn in the eye of the movement for social change in India – and elsewhere

Posted on December 8, 2011

0



Esha Chhabra points out some very essential issues in her excellent article for GOOD called “How to Upgrade India’s Social Enterprise Ecosystem,” where she is taking the temperature on contemporary work for social change in India. She writes:

“India has become a hotbed of social enterprise, home to impact technology like D.Light Design‘s low-cost LED lights for rural communities, Sarvajal’s water ATMs, and Aravind Eye Hospital’s high-quality, high-volume, low-cost health care.

India is an obvious staging ground for social innovation—it’s home to bright young minds, serious development issues, a lack of public services, and a growing divide between globalized cities and rural poor. India’s freedom from strict regulations like in the U.S. or Europe makes it an ideal playground for social entrepreneurs, enabling them to test ideas and develop the ones that are ripe for further growth.

But India’s social enterprises are struggling to scale, communicate, and share their ideas, and they still lack support from the country’s leading businesses. Social enterprise in India remains a messy, unregulated, chaotic venture (..)”.

Something highly relevant is being highlighted in the article, when Chhabra quotes a portfolio manager at Acumen Fund in India, Karthik Chadrasekar, saying “while there are so many enterprises, for example, in the energy space, they’re not necessarily talking with each other, combing their voices, and approaching the government or the private sector for support.”

They are not necessarily talking with each other.

This is a very key issue of the current state of initiatives for social change in India – and elsewhere. There is an insufficient level of mutual support, unification, co-creation, collaboration, sharing of knowledge and innovative solutions etc. I firmly believe that if we seriously want to tackle some of the major challenges facing our societies and global community as a whole, we really need to start sharing much more, talking together becoming much louder, and supporting one another much more significantly. Anyone taking work for sustainable, structural social changes seriously must embrace this fact. There is no way around it and that might not be such a bad thing. It can take the social work much further, make it much more fun to be a part of, and accelerate the change movement and pave the way for even better solutions.

This is why I call my blog 2 plus 2 equals 10, because I think ‘co-creation, sharing, ‘collectiveness’, jointed forces‘ are essential elements to the future of social work – and to the future in general! The buzzwords aside, it just means that together we can do more. It makes little sense that organizations and social committed individuals should start from scratch, when they wish to tackle a given social problem in their local communities. Nor does it make sense, that they should do it alone. In today’s world no one has patent on being the ‘change leader’; it will come down to the many rather than the few – it will be a collective effort and accomplishment. However cliche or simple it might sound, we are still far from acting upon it and we still need to find the systems and ways in which such interactions and sharing are best facilitated and encouraged.

“(..) India’s social enterprises are struggling to scale, communicate, and share their ideas, and they still lack support from the country’s leading businesses. Social enterprise in India remains a messy, unregulated, chaotic venture.” This nails the essence of the challenges facing the work for social change in India, and many other countries across the globe. It is a painful and significant thorn in the eye of the movement for social change, anywhere. The key question is of course, what can we do about it? How can we improve the ecosystem of social enterprises – and other social initiatives?  This will be a main topic in the years to come, because it’s a riddle in the center of the current challenges facing all work towards catalyzing social change – and thus it is a riddle for which we must find solutions. And we will.

Advertisements