Indian social enterprises have huge potential: British Council report

A British Council report says that a majority of social enterprises in India are focussed on skill development, followed by education


A file photo of child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi (left) with children. Photo: Joerg Boethling/Alamy Live News
A file photo of child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi (left) with children. Photo: Joerg Boethling/Alamy Live News

New Delhi: A majority (53%) of social enterprises in India are focussed on skill development, followed by 30% on education, according to a study on Indian social enterprises relased by the British Council on Thursday.

The other sectors where social enterprises are active include agriculture-related activities (28%) , financial services (26%), clean energy (26%) and technology in healthcare (22%), on-farm livelihood (17% ), food and nutrition (16%) and sanitation and water (14% ).

The survey also showed that social enterprises are more inclusive and younger in terms of its leadership when compared to mainstream businesses.

Of the over-250 social enterprises surveyed, it was found 24% are led by women and 27% by people under the age of 35 years while 57% of the social enterprises surveyed are led by individuals between the ages of 25 and 44 years.

“This is just a start and we hope this survey will act as a kind of baseline, to help improve policy, legislation and other supporting infrastructure to improve the social enterprise space,” Tristen Ace, who leads the British Council Social Enterprise programme in East Asia, said at the launch of the report.

The report was launched by Jitendra Singh, minister of state (independent charge) in the ministry of development of north-eastern region, or Doner.

The study titled Social Value Economy was carried out by the British Council in partnership with Ennovent Pvt Ltd; a firm supporting innovations that create a sustainable impact on low income people and Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, an international network of organizations that works to promote entrepreneurship in developing countries.

Among the handful of surveys on the social enterprise sector of the country, this study was carried out over a period of 16 months between 2015 and 2016.

A social enterprise means that the social impact is as important as the financial return to the entrepreneur. This business model is popular in the West and is slowly catching on in India.

The study said the average annual turnover of the social enterprises studied for this report was Rs7.8 million in 2015. The exercise revealed serious funding barriers and problems associated with India lacking a national policy on social enterprises.

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