The second Covid-19 wave has brought to fore the remarkable role of social entrepreneurs as last-mile responders and an effective way to bring the change in the development of the social sector. During this time, they mobilised resources, generated awareness, distributed necessities, provided counselling, dispelled myths, ensured home care services, built community service centres, facilitated testing, and supported the vaccination drive. Social enterprises, as distinct from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), operate in an open marketplace. They could be for-profit, not-for-profit or have a hybrid model. While their numbers have grown, social entrepreneurs need urgent help from the government.
Measures needs to be taken
- Permit Social Entrepreneurs with less than three years of experience, as well as for-profit social entrepreneurs, to receive financial support through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding. The ministry of corporate affairs guidelines do not allow this at the moment. Since Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on marginalised communities, social entrepreneurs stretched their resources to serve these communities.
- Defining Social Enterprise: The lack of an official definition acts as a hurdle. For example, the United Kingdom’s department of trade and industries defines them as “a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners”.
- Encouraging Not For Profit Startups: The Start-up India initiative has addressed for-profit startup social enterprises, but does not cover not-for-profits. Its inclusion could be an important step in this direction.
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