New Delhi: Arbind Singh set up the Nidan foundation in 1995 in an effort to empower the urban poor—waste collectors, vegetable vendors, construction workers or micro farmers—by bringing them together to build competitive, profitable organizations and businesses.
Listen to a podcast with one of last year’s SEY winners, Rajendra Joshi of Saath.
The model had already turned successful when Singh won the 2008 social entrepreneur of the year (SEY) award instituted by the Schwab Foundation—an achievement she says brought both more exposure and opportunity.
“Ever since we won the award, we have seen a huge rise in interest in the work we do,” Singh says. “People have begun to approach us, saying they would like to work with us; we have received requests to spread our work into other states and I have been personally asked to speak and share my experiences at prominent forums. It gives us huge confidence that we are on the right track.”
This year’s award will be presented by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation (which have entered a four-year partnership to run the awards in India), in collaboration with the Hindustan Times and Mint, which are published by HT Media Ltd.
Jubilant Bhartia Foundation is an initiative of Jubilant Organosys Ltd. The promoters of Jubilant Organosys and HT Media Ltd are closely related, but have no cross-holdings.
Nominations for this year’s award opened on 21 June and will close on 7 July. The winner (or winners) will be announced at the India economic summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in November after a five-step selection and pruning process.
“The fact that the award was presented at the WEF India Economic Summit means that the level of exposure and recognition is very high and this has a very positive effect on not just us, but communities we work with,” says Singh.
The award was instituted by the Schwab foundation in 2005 to recognize people working towards addressing social problems innovatively and effectively.
The award is open to individuals and organizations already working in the social sector and at the stage of scaling/replicating their ideas across India and other countries.
Previous winners include Harish Hande, who pioneered access to rural solar electrification for below poverty line families, and Rajendra Joshi of Saath, which also works among the urban poor, helping them gain livelihoods and turn into consumers of basic services. Prior to 2005, the Schwab foundation recognized social entrepreneurs, but on a global scale. It later decided to shift the focus of the award to a national level.
“We realized that social entrepreneurs often lack much-needed recognition in their own countries... We also wanted to bring the leading social entrepreneurs to the attention of the business and political elite of the respective countries”, said Mirjam Schoening, senior director and head of the Schwab foundation.
More information on rules, process and how to enter can be found on the Schwab foundation website www.schwabfoundseoy.org .