The world we live in today has evolved from its altruistic nature so much that it has stopped looking at societal problems. Although many inventions taking place almost on a daily basis and technology’s growth at a great pace can benefit the less privileged, society and its problems only truly concern a few. And they are social entrepreneurs, who go out of their way to make life better for the deprived and needy, and whose selflessness beats everything. Here are a few affecting stories of Indian social entrepreneurs we all should know, who are a godsend to society.
Prema Gopalan, Swayam Shikshan Prayog
The winner of Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 award, Prema Gopalan is a remarkable human being. She was awarded for her work in empowering rural women who wished to pursue entrepreneurship and helping people in the areas affected by climate change. Prema Gopalan does this notable work through her social services organization – Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) in Pune, Maharashtra. In 1993, Gopalan worked for the betterment of people in the rural areas of Latur after the destructive Latur earthquake. The plight of the people in that area established a strong reason for her to formally start SSP in 1998. So far, SSP has helped 1,45,000 people – farmers, rural women entrepreneurs and business leaders – to fulfil their dreams and make a mark.
Harish Hande, SELCO
Through his social venture SELCO, Harish Hande aims to eradicate energy deprivation and promote sustainable energy technologies in rural India. Harish Hande co-founded SELCO with Neville Williams in 1995. SELCO is a solar energy company with its headquarters in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The company has its branches across Karnataka and Gujarat and has set up solar lighting systems in more than 1,45,000 houses in these states. This great venture of Harish Hande has won many awards recognizing its contribution towards the poor. Also, in 2008, India Today listed Harish Hande among the 50 Pioneers of Change in India
Urvashi Sahni, Study Hall Educational Foundation
Founder of Study Hall Educational Foundation (SHEF), Urvashi Sahni is an inspiration to the world. SHEF was founded in 1994 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, and it runs schools and programmes for children and youth deprived of education. Through this organization, Sahni worked for the education and the well-being of disabled children, girls and rural youth. She won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 award for educating many underprivileged girls in India. SHEF has supported over 2,50,000 lives with its initiatives in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Keeping girl children as the centre of all their initiatives, Urvashi Sahni and her foundation are a great example of compassion to society.
Aditya Baran Mallik, Institute for Quality Skill Training
Institute for Quality Skill Training (IQST) was started in 2009 by Aditya Baran Mallik, to make sure that the poverty-stricken youth of the state of Jharkhand can make a better living. The institute provides cheap, easy and fast skill training to its students and ensures their employment. It is funded by the best investors and partners with hundreds of companies to provide the students with the right employment opportunities. IQST has so far trained and employed 25,000 people. Aditya Baran Mallik is a real contributor to the elimination of youth unemployment, which is a major setback for the progress of India.
Ajaita Shah, Frontier Markets
With an experience in microfinance and clean energy distribution, Ajaita Shah established Frontier Markets in 2011 as an effort to make lives in low-income households easy. Based in Jaipur, Rajasthan, Frontier Markets is a last-mile distribution company that delivers quality clean energy solutions to people living in the rural areas and most importantly, to women. The company has sold over 20,000 clean energy products such as smokeless stoves and solar lighting in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. It also works with rural households to build the products that they need and has a network of 3,000 entrepreneurs who provide innovative solutions to help the less privileged. Frontier Markets has reached to 4,00,000 households with solutions and impacted over 21,00,000 lives.
There are many other names worth-mentioning when the talk is about societal betterment – Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra’s Hanumappa Sudarshan, who worked with tribal communities for their development; Shaheen Mistri, the woman who emphasizes on education for the underprivileged through her Akanksha Foundation; Anil Kumar Gupta, founder of Honey Bee Network that helps labouring-class innovators commercialize their products. All these people have done and are doing their best towards making the world a better place to live. They are truly an inspiration to mankind.