Authored by: Nilima Achwal and Vishy Kuruganti
Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from a post on the Villgro Fellows Blog.
The two-day Unconvention 2011 hosted by Villgro in Chennai, India earlier this month brought together some of the brightest minds working in social enterprise in India. In particular, the two morning plenary sessions were excellent, drawing out some of the major questions of our space.
The first morning panel, entitled Social Entrepreneurship 2020, explored the future of social entrepreneurship – whether there will be a need for it to exist in 10 years – and, if so, how it will grow, and how investors can facilitate that growth. It featured P. Pradeep, chief investment officer at Aavishkaar; Sushmita Ghosh, president emeritus of Ashoka Innovators for the Public; R. Ramraj, chair of Innovation & Entrepreneurship panel in the Confederation of Indian Industries; Laura Parkin, executive director of the Wadhwani Foundation and co-founder of the National Entrepreneurship Network, and Harish Hande, Magsaysay Awardee, MD, SELCO, India; and Gavin McGillivray, global head, Private Sector Department, DFID.
Aavishkar’s Pradeep weighed in that “we believe that social enterprises are business opportunities in their own right and, as such, the ‘social’ in social enterprises can be dropped.” Laura Parkin took this a step further, bringing up the point that 10 years from now, what have been dubbed social enterprises may not exist since they would all be regular, for-profit enterprises. She predicted that some of today’s social enterprises may morph into non-profit organizations. She also encouraged everyone to consider themselves “changemakers” working toward the common goal of change, rather than entering discussions with specific labels.