Giving Compass’ Take:
• Isabel Salovaara and Jeremy Wade explain the importance of involving women to drive prosperity and achieve social change in India.
• How can funders effectively uplift women to increase prosperity? What local cultural factors do funders need to keep in mind to make an impact?
Women first, prosperity for all. This was the theme of the 10th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted late 2017 in Hyderabad. A recent five-country study, commissioned by the British Council, on the mutual interdependence of social enterprise initiatives and women’s empowerment movements provides insights into the strategies for—and barriers to—long-term change.
Social enterprises span a wide range of emerging industries. Some integrate rural youth, including young women, into India’s thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) industry as call-center employees. Taxi services by and for women, such as Sakha Consulting Wings, train and employ women in the male-dominated field of commercial driving.
Yet some participants were skeptical that financial empowerment and market integration, without parallel (and often unprofitable) efforts to change ingrained mindsets, could accomplish all that is needed to put women and girls on equal footing with men. Their caution echoed deeper concerns about the place of social enterprise within the constellation of other models comprising India’s social sector.
At a Kolkata focus group, participants raised a provocative question: Do we really need to distinguish NGOs from social enterprise? As a whole, the group agreed that women’s empowerment should be the key issue, rather than who does it.
Many hope social enterprise can transform this image of the social sector by making both “doing good and doing well” possible. But as policy develops over time to recognize and support social enterprise in India, the sector must avoid several pitfalls if it is to maximize the hybrid model’s benefits for women.
Read the full article about social change in India by Isabel Salovaara and Jeremy Wade at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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