New Weekly Feature: Ennovent Weekly Roundup, 5.7.13

Compiled by Kartikey Srivastava & Perzen Patel


As India heads well into the annual monsoon season, I am pleased to announce that we will be starting a new feature on the blog – Ennovent’s weekly roundups. While not an earth shattering announcement, we at Ennovent hope that this quick weekly overview better helps get you up to speed on what’s been happening in India and around the world in the space of social enterprise and impact investing this week.


1. Ronnie Screwvala puts profit first in social impact ventures

You might not associate Ronnie Screwvala with impact investing and probably know him better as the producer of blockbuster Bollywood movies. But, Ronnie Screwvala is also a major philanthropist with his ‘Swades Foundation’ focused on rural development in the villages of Maharashtra.


In addition is ‘Unilazer’, a venture wholly funded by Screwvala that focuses on investing in social enterprises within the sectors of and education amongst others.


Like a true businessmen, Screwvala this week announced that with Unilazer he is aiming for a profit first and is eyeing an annual return quite unheard of within a sector that is synonymous with patient capital. This has created healthy tension with the entrepreneurs who want to, for example, offer up a certain number of beds in hospital for free. Screwvala feels this can be done once the business is established.


2. Goonj: Rescuing Uttarakhand and Bridging the Clothing Divide

The recent floods in Northern India have caused devastation across the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Ennovent Network member, Goonj has started the ‘Rahat’ campaign, which literally translates to ‘relief’.


However, Managing Director, Anshu Gupta, says sending materials “is only the first step” and what distinguishes them is that they will stay in these areas and provide empowerment and rehabilitation to the people whose lives have been ruined by this catastrophe.


However, beyond the flood catastrophe Goonj has also been doing some great work in bridging the clothing divide through their ‘Cloth for Work’ program which “links clothes to self-organized development activities in villages.” Through this program, Goonj collects clothes from affluent people, resizes them all in their collection centres before distributing them to community based organisations.


While this issue is one that does not seem to get much attention; the work that Goonj are doing is very noteworthy. We hope they go from strength to strength.


3. India needs ‘business as unusual’ to solve its massive developmental problems

I met Nelson Moses, founder of Billion Bulbs at Sankalp this year and was impressed with his passion to chronicle India’s social entrepreneurship journey. In this great piece, Nelson notes that while economic indicators for India have improved dramatically, the same cannot be said for social indicators.


Despite the presence of so many organisations trying to combat India’s issues as well as financial help from organisations such as the World Bank, India is home to a third of the world’s poor who face high levels of malnutrition.


Nelson believes that social enterprises are one of the possible solutions to overcome India’s multitude of problems. The dual promise of financial and social returns and at times environmental benefits  while leveraging the power of market forces could do some of the heavy-lifting in combating India’s crippling social indicators.


4. Social enterprises existed long before modern politics.

Moving outside of India, a very interesting article in the Guardian was published by Conservative Party MP Chris White. White is the social value ambassador for the government and he was replying to an article by his counterpart from the opposition Labour Party, Chi Onwurah who stated that that social enterprise is something that has been close to the Labour Party for decades and it can be the future of public services.


White replied by saying that social enterprise “is not a political football, no party owns social enterprise.”  He acknowledges that there are significant barriers to social enterprises in the UK. But as he says, efforts have been made in the country to help out. These include creating “Big Society Capital”, an independent financial institution in addition to social enterprise spin-outs of the public sector. He notes that practical help will be continue to be offered to social enterprises to help them grow.


Also, in case you missed it, recently on the Ennovent Blog:


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