This is a guest column by Anil Kshatriya, Assistant Professor – Finance, IMT Nagpur
Starting social ventures is not a fancy idea. They don’t attract same amount of attention, eyeballs or fanfare as pro-profit commercial business ideas. Naturally, most young graduates do not think of creating social enterprises. The approach of graduate students in India towards their career is very calculative. The opportunity cost of jobs they sacrifice and time value of money invested in education is too high for them.
There are a few exceptions. There are some youngsters who aspire to make a difference to the lives of people by solving their social concerns. But these numbers are abysmally low when compared to the quantum of shortfall in social infrastructure provided by government agencies. The fact is that the opportunities of funding remain more or less equal for these two kinds of ventures. Unfortunately, it is the lack of motivation from several sections of society which has marred the spirit of social entrepreneurship in India.
Educational institutes are the best places to groom young creative minds. The spark of social awareness can be kindled through right kind of exposure to social challenges faced by communities around the place of learning. Face-to-face interaction with different sections of society helps students to understand their problems. Classroom discussions around such problems falls on deaf ears not because of lack of sensitivity but primarily because talks and discussions cannot create emotional impact. A personal gratification through participation on the other hand leaves a lasting impression on their minds. It has potential to germinate seeds of innovative ideas for solving deep rooted problems faced by certain sections of society.
One of the simplest ways to inculcate values among students is to make them work on things which institutions want them to realize. Colleges can therefore make give students an option to study social phenomena by giving them sufficient credit in academic process. Good institutions do this by asking their students to intern with organizations which are trying to solve some pressing social challenge. Internship is a great way to build open-minded outlook towards a specific problem. Interns are not employees yet they are accountable for the work they do. They can think out of the box because they don’t limit themselves in top-down thinking process. Often their ideas are naïve and powerful because they are not bounded by performance measurement metrics. Field visits make them think through the situation and not think about the situation. Some bright minds can get inspired to solve social issues after experiencing the hard hitting realities personally. It might still remain a touch and go experience for many students but it has promising chances of shaping thoughts of few good graduates in a right way.
The power of networking is very strong in an institutional set-up. Exchange of views, opinions and ideas is much faster in the educational campuses. Debates are encouraged. Opposite views are welcomed. This is the biggest advantage of nurturing and developing a business plan on campus premises. A social enterprise can attract enough conceptual momentum if it starts with mentoring efforts of educational institution. Social experimentation becomes possible. Options of learning, unlearning and relearning remain open. The cost of failure is low and the propensity to succeed is significantly high.
India needs more and more colleges which can channelize the young energies through formation of social entities. These entities should be willing to stake themselves to the peril of facing daunting social issues like lack primary education, child labour, women safety, rural health centers, farmer suicide etc. Schools and colleges must vow to become catalysts in propelling ignited minds to come forward and be the change they wish to see.
About the Author:
Anil Kshatriya works as Assistant Professor in the area of Finance at Institute of Management Technology, Nagpur. His teaching and research interests include Managerial Accounting, Management Control Systems and Strategic Management.
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