January 28, 2013: Bloomberg TV India, India’s premier business news channel, today announced the launch of “DOWN TO EARTH’, a special series that will highlight cutting edge developments in philanthropy and the social sector in India. It is a series that celebrates the spirit of social entrepreneurship. Dasra, India’s leading strategic philanthropy foundation is Bloomberg TV India’s ‘Knowledge Partner’ for this unique series.
Down to Earth chronicles the stories of four social entrepreneurs viz., Inir Pinheiro of Grassroutes, Naveen Krishna of SMV Wheels, Rajesh Shah of SABRAS and Shilpi Kapoor of Barrier Break Technologies who are leading organisations that are successfully applying business ideas to create social good, employment and provide access to improved livelihood opportunities for the poor and downtrodden.
Grassroutes is based on the concept of responsible rural tourism owned and operated by local village communities. Community based tourism, where the community is at the centre of ownership, decision making and management, would ensure economic development with a check on the undesired effects of tourism. Till date, Grassroutes intervention in two villages has resulted in an average increase of approximately Rs 1,800 in the annual income of each of 90 households.
Mr. Inir Pinheiro, Owner, Grassroutes said “The greatest challenge in India is the lack of opportunities, especially livelihood opportunities. With this thought in mind, we explored tourism, which is known to be a good mechanism for economic development. The key to developing any livelihood is sustainability and that is the prime reason I chose social entrepreneurship. In order to preserve this country we need to create sustainable livelihood opportunities and our endeavour is to create a million such opportunities”.
SMV Wheels’ goal is to help atleast 10 million cycle rickshaw pullers in India achieve ownership and in doing so, transform the way they perceive themselves and, in turn, how they are perceived. The idea of starting SMW Wheels was born out of interactions with 10,000 rickshaw pullers across 5 states in the country in a span of 4 years. Due to SMV Wheels for the first time cycle rickshaw pullers are able to truly profit from their power and achieve upward economic mobility.
Mr. Naveen Krishna, Managing Director, SMV Wheels said, “I had witnessed the social and economic exploitation of cycle rickshaw pullers since my childhood and wanted to do something to improve their lives. If we support a community that works the hardest, yet amongst the poorest, and bring a small change in their lives it will be the best success story for the other similar communities. The smile and confidence they have after becoming the owner of their cycle rickshaw is my biggest encouragement.”
SABRAS was set up in 2007 to find institutional solutions which can bring the poor together, help them climb the next step of the value chain and in the process increase their productivity and profitability. SABRAS have created a model through which labourers in the world’s hardest conditions, through collective action, can build sustainable livelihoods. It is currently working with 43,000 marginalized salt producers located in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat to help increase their overall profitability and productivity.
Mr. Rajesh Shah, Chairman and Founder, SABRAS said, “My journey into social entrepreneurship started 35 years ago. After lobbying with the government to provide land to poor agriculture labourers, I realized the need to focus on wealth generation for these farmers by increasing their access to technology, markets and institutional credit. I was driven to find solutions for mainstreaming the marginalized through combining cause and commerce. I believe that in order to achieve inclusive growth one needs to reach out to the poor and help them run their enterprises professionally and achieve wealth generation.”
Barrier Break has initiated the first step of accessibility in India by creating an inclusive society. A society where equal opportunity is provided to all, ease of access to employment, education, social life, and encouraging independent living for all. Their aim is to make a difference in the lives of the people with disabilities and provide them with equal opportunities.
Ms. Shilpi Kapoor, Founder Director, Barrier Break Technologies said, “I always wanted to work with technology but didn’t want to do the usual things. I realised that it was difficult for the disabled to move around or use infrastructure and the use of web and technology could help solve this problem. I was intrigued by how people with disabilities would be impacted by technology and decided to pursue this as a career. . I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur because I believe that a team of passionate and committed people can achieve lot more than what a single person could. I wanted to make a difference and this proved to be the right path for me.”
DOWN TO EARTH will be telecast every Saturday at 1:30pm and Sunday at 11.30 am exclusively on Bloomberg TV India. The first episode of this special series will be telecast on Saturday, February 02nd 2013.