Published: 16th February 2021
Looking to take the plunge into social entrepreneurship? This course's hands-on approach might do the trick
For all those who nurture a social entrepreneurial streak, Access Livelihoods Consulting's Social Entrepreneurship Program is the right place to start. Their participants tell us why they think so...
There are many youngsters with a twinkle in their eyes and a dream to change their surroundings — if not their world. It is for these few good men and women that Access Livelihoods Learning Foundation, the education arm of Hyderabad-based Access Livelihoods Consulting (ALC) which helps with the livelihood of the economically marginalised, came up with the Social Entrepreneurship Program. Think of this programme as a crash course on starting a business or furthering a venture that has its heart in the right place. It was in September 2017 that they piloted cohorts of 10 to 15 'seekers', as ALC likes to call them, and only last year, did their full-fledged programme flag off. And now, applications are open for the fifth cohort of this two year PGP programme. And with Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) as partners, things are only going to get better.
As Sruthi Kunnel, CEO, Access Livelihoods Learning Foundation herself puts it, "Most programmes like these focus on the mind and body. But our programme focuses on the boy, mind, heart and soul. How? Because we focus on self-transition, entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial skills and enterprise excellence," says the 39-year-old. This happens via the course's six-month intense residential bit and then an all-out 18-month on-field experience that requires the seekers to work on the field and give it their blood, sweat and tears.
In addition to a nine square mandala based interview, shortlisted candidates are given community tasks that test their ability to engage with the community and understand their problems
And without any further ado, we were introduced to two of the 22 seekers from the recent cohort who made the most of the opportunity. And instead of us telling you more about the programme, these young lads, both passionate about the field of agriculture, will enunciate what it is capable of.
On his own now
Jaspal Singh's father knew that the prospects in the field of agriculture were only waning and it is with this experience that he told his now 27-year-old son, "Better not to come into this line, there is not much profit here." But the heart wants what it wants. So after pursuing Mechanical Engineering from Punjab University and before he could deep-dive into the world of agriculture to find pearls of progress and profit, Jaspal reasoned that it would be wise to equip himself with the right knowledge first. Hence, stumbling upon the Social Entrepreneurship Program was not just serendipity, it was the need of the hour. "I had already helped my father shift from chemical to organic farming. Then it was time to gain the right exposure and skills to start my own enterprise," says the youngster who hails from Maur Kalan in Bathinda, Punjab.
Happy seekers | (Pic: ALC)
After six months of rigorous classroom training, Jaspal was tasked with initiating an all-women farmer producer organisation in Kalahandi, Odisha. Seed production of paddy, sowing, harvesting, branding and marketing — Jaspal had to help with everything. "The work involved talking to families, particularly husbands because they were the decision-makers. Calling for meetings and sleeping in the framers' house, I did a lot to build trust. Lakhs were poured in to procure the machinery," says the youngster, recalling his struggles. It all paid off when they generated an income of Rs 65 lakh in their first business cycle itself.
Now, Jaspal is working on Gramya Venture, which he founded with batchmate Hitesh Varathe from Betul in Madhya Pradesh. Apart from working on income prosperity of farmers, environment and healthy food production, which is their long-term target, the duo is currently committed to installing terrace gardens in Nagpur. As many as 15 people since January 2021 have opted for their services giving them a revenue of Rs 1.5 lakh, and those are just their latest numbers.
It was in the year 2005 that ALC started its operations
It was so much more personal
Nagasai Krishna B believed in the power of technology and was determined in his belief that it will uplift the sector. That's one of the first myths that was busted for him via the programme. So, after the classroom, when he hit the field he joined AgriTech start-up Kheyti and his task was to increase the sale of cucumber and capsicum from 500 kg per day to five tons. What a task! "I had my own team and I was leading it. I personally visited several mandis in Hyderabad to understand each and every aspect. I even travelled to Pune and Bengaluru," says the 25-year-old.
Currently, he is working with Kheyti full-time as a Project Manager and with this fact, you must have guessed that his course and practical work went splendidly. "The best part was that there was no one to tell you what to do exactly. There were mentors but you had to figure it all out on your own," says the youngster whose father is a farmer back in Ongole, Andhra Pradesh. So you see, the journey has been very personal for Nagasai. "I even had the habit of jumping from one idea to another and losing interest. But the course taught me to choose wisely and hold on to the choice for dear life," says the alumni of NIT, Nagaland.
At work | (Pic: ALC)
These are just two of the many stories that are currently being written with the help of ALC and these stories serve as testimony that when an entrepreneur has a heart of gold to go with their business sense, the world becomes a much better place.
Questions? Answers -
- Who is a social entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur who is interested in starting a business or an organisation and using their innovation skills for the greater social good
- What are the qualities of a social entrepreneur?
Deep empathy, emotional and social intelligence, resilience, sustainable approach are some of the many qualities of a social entrepreneur
- Want to be a social entrepreneur?
All entrepreneurial journeys start with research. Identify a problem and work with the community to find a solution that is sustainable for all
- Which courses can help you?
Apart from the programme offered by ACL, Teach For India might also offer a good experience. INSEAD also has a course along with a host of other portals
Social entrepreneurs you should know:
- Shaheen Mistri: To change the way India teaches its children, Mistri started Teach For India which engages youth to teach India's children
- Sharad Vivek Sagar: Founder and CEO of Dexterity Global, a social enterprise that focuses on empowering next gen through opportunities and training
- Karthik Naralasetty: Started Socialblood and has Facebook on board. The app helps you tap into your own network to seek donors for blood donation
- Olivia Deka: After going through clinical depression, she started She for Change. It helps women find their voice and empowers them as well
- Ria Sharma: She started an organisation called Make Love Not Scars which helps victims of acid attack to find their feet in society again