Experts discuss role of women in driving social enterprise

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Mar 2017 11:47:06

Staff Reporter,

Experts and practitioners in the field of social enterprise and women’s empowerment converged in Bhopal to discuss how social enterprises can be the engine for empowering women in India—and how women can drive the development of the social enterprise field.

Social enterprises are businesses that principally reinvest their profits into a social or environmental mission. Depending upon their business models, these may create livelihood opportunities for women by including them in their value chains or may serve their unmet needs through innovative products. According to a previous study by the British Council, 24% of social enterprises in India are women-led, in contrast to 8.9% of conventional firms. The British Council, which works extensively to promote social enterprise around 28 countries in the world, co-hosted this dialogue with Jindal Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Oasis - A Social Innovations Lab. Key participants were women from civil society, local government and corporate chamber, working on these themes.

Bhopal is the first location from among ten locations in India, where these dialogues are scheduled to be organised during March-April. These dialogues form part of a larger five country research carried out by the British Council in partnership with Social Impact Consulting and the Overseas Development Institute in the UK.

Key outcomes from the dialogue were that there is a strong case for: (1) having incubation and mentorship platforms for social enterprises with a focus on women’s empowerment and (2) changing mindsets about women’s entrepreneurial abilities to mitigate the doubts and social opposition that female entrepreneurs still face.

The research will utilise the knowledge of experts in each country to understand the different types of social enterprise activity, and the different challenges facing women and girls. It will provide information and recommendations for policy-makers, networks, funders and support providers. The final report is expected to be launched in June.

Sameer Chaturvedi, who heads Social Enterprise portfolio of British Council in India, said that “gender equality is a crucial strand for British Council’s work in India and our work in social enterprise complements it through research, capacity building and policy engagement”.
Shibani Ghosh, Co-founder of Oasis – A Social Innovations Lab said “the best way to empower a woman is to help her build an enterprise, as she builds it like a family”.