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Confluence 2010: Nurturing Social Entrepreneurship in India

I’m just walking out of Confluence 2010, a remarkable event organized by National Social Entrepreneurship Forum (NSEF). Bringing together young people with keen interest and passion for social entrepreneurship together with some leading social entrepreneurs, the event resulted in an inspiring day of conversations and experience sharing. Below are some interesting snippets from the event:

Anshu Gupta, Founder of Goonj India narrated his remarkable story of starting the organization and highlighted his struggles and challenges as a social entrepreneur. In the capital of India, 10-12 people die every day due to lack of access to proper clothing. Goonj India collects used clothes from urban pockets, does need based sorting and processing and distributes them to rural communities through a cloth-for-work program. He further clarified that it is important that they dont distribute the clothes for free, since the biggest asset of village India is self-respect and dignity.

In a similar experience sharing session, Ramji Raghavan, the Founder of Agastya Foundation narrated his story of transitioning from the world of investment banking to sparkling creativity in rural India. He mentioned how they ‘chanced’ upon the idea of mobile science labs and today the organization operates 50 such labs, helping to spark the creativity of hundreds of thousands of kids across India.

The day ended with a interesting panel on the role of B-schools in fostering social entrepreneurship, with participants from IIMB, XLRI and TISS. It was remarkable to see the steps taken by these schools to foster social entrepreneurship within their campuses. IIMB recently announced a fee waiver program for students working in NGO/Public sector/social enterprises for at least three years after graduating. XLRI has a Social Entrepreneurship fund to provide seed support to students starting new social ventures. TISS runs a full-time 2 year post-graduate program in Social Entrepreneurship.

As the conference ended, one has to be amazed the incredible energy, interest and passion for doing social change work, among the young people in the room. With every new promising idea lies the opportunity to fundamentally change lives of the poor and marginalized in India.

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