We live in a country with a hell of a lot of problems. But instead of just complaining, at last, there seem to be folks from a cross section of society actually doing something about it. And doing it differently.
My batchmate Venkat Krishnan, for example. He runs Give Foundation which is not an NGO, but more like an 'NGO for NGOs'.
GIVE Foundation is a professionally governed and managed Indian nonprofit organisation dedicated to promote "giving". We help "good" NGOs raise funds and promote greater transparency & accountability in the voluntary sector.
Our mission: To promote efficient and effective giving that provides greater opportunities to the poor in India.
Our vision: A strong "giving" culture where Indians donate 2% of their income every year to give the poor a chance. A vibrant "philanthropy marketplace" to ensure that the most efficient and effective nonprofits get access to the most resources.
The point is, had Venkat tackled the 'let me do something for the less privileged' in a conventional manner he would have started a charity - a school, or hospital, or home for orphans. Which, surely, would have been a good thing. But not as good as what he is doing now. Because 'Give' is conceived in a manner that is delivering far greater impact.
'Give' is an example of 'social entrepreneurship', a subject on which I've written a piece in the latest Businessworld.
The term 'entrepreneur' generally brings to mind the likes of Bill Gates or Dhirubhai Ambani: individuals with drive, ambition and vision - and enormous bank balances. Entrepreneurship is so firmly associated with the creation of wealth that using it to describe non profit-driven leadership and innovation is initially a little hard to digest.
But as management guru Peter Drucker so rightly puts it, not every new business is entrepreneurial and not every entrepreneurial venture must be in business. He defines an entrepreneur as one who "always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity".
Here's the interesting bit
While the term is relatively new, social entrepreneurs have always been around. Florence Nightingale, Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave are vivid examples. The problem, says David Bornstein, author of How To Change The World, is that historically we have looked at such individuals as humanitarians or saints.
"Great social entrepreneurs are not the geniuses of society," argues Bornstein. "They are not the best educated or the richest or the most talented. Rather, they tend to be the people who are the most strongly motivated in a particular area..." People who have done remarkable things, he says, didn't begin with the knowledge and capacity to run a large organisation. They acquired it along the way, step by step.
It's the same as in business. The great entrepreneurs aren't necessarily the best educated or 'most talented'. They are the ones who are most motivated, the ones who don't just think but focus on implementation.
You can access my piece: "The Big Social Idea" by picking up a copy. If in India, you can also read it on their website after free registration. If abroad, you'll be asked for a small registration fee.