Social Entrepreneurs Aim for India and Pakistan

Understanding the need to design for extreme affordability is giving birth to a new generation of entrepreneurs. These are entrepreneurs with a social conscience who are motivated by the desire to do good and do well at the same time. They are finding new ways to empower the poor by satisfying their basic needs for safe water and electricity in emerging markets.

According to Wikipedia definition, a social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Unlike a business entrepreneur who typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur assesses success in terms of the impact s/he has on society. While social entrepreneurs often work through nonprofits and citizen groups, many work in the private and governmental sectors.

The main aim of a social entrepreneurship as well as social enterprise is to further social and environmental goals. This need not be incompatible with making a profit, but social entrepreneurs are often non-profits. Social enterprises are for ‘more-than-profit’.

In addition to their inner desire to help others while also helping themselves, what has encouraged such entrepreneurs is the successful penetration of the mobile phones among the poor in India and Pakistan, many of whom subsist on less than a dollar a day. The rapid growth of cell phones among the rural poor in South Asia has shown that even the poorest of the poor are willing to offer several months' earnings for the benefit of connectivity. By doing so, they have demonstrated their potential as consumers of affordable products that offer them real benefits, such as a glass of safe drinking water and a bright source of light at night.

Safe, Clean Water for the Masses

Saafwater, Inc. is a startup helping people in Karachi, Pakistan with access to safe drinking water. The company founders, Sarah Bird, Saira Khwaja and Khalid Saiduddin, emerged as finalists in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 100k Entrepreneurship Competition in 2007, and received $10,000 to put the concept of SaafWater into practice.

The company's first product is SaafWater Daily Capsule - a simple capsule of chlorine solution that can treat one family’s daily supply of drinking water. SaafWater’s mission is to provide affordable clean water to low-income communities in urban areas. Their goal is to create a profitable distribution network that can supply billions of people with clean water.

The company has worked closely with the US Centers for Disease Control’s Safe Water System which has been responsible for pioneering this technology and reaching an estimated 16 million users worldwide. With their help the company has learned from their experiences and to ensure that it meets all the relevant World Health Organization Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality.

Going door-to-door, SaafWater representatives sell daily chlorine capsules, which can be immersed in a family’s water container rendering the supply free of contaminants in 30 minutes. Sales representatives offer a week’s supply for about 30 rupees, the rough equivalent of U.S. 40 cents. SaafWater also plans to launch independent programs with existing NGOs to help create self-sustaining water purification programs throughout Pakistan.

Saafwater's vision is to build and extend this network to include many other life-saving and life-enhancing products such as clean-burning fuels, sanitation, renewable electricity, refrigeration, eye-glasses, multi-vitamins for mothers and children, and construction materials to name but a few.

Bright Light for Night

D.light, founded by two Stanford graduates, marries next-generation light-emitting diodes (LEDs), proprietary power-management tools, and increasingly cheap solar panels. The founders, Nedjip Tozun and Sam Goldman, attended Professor Jim Patell's Stanford Business School class called Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability, highlighted recently by Fortune Magazine.

As a result, D.light is able to offer poor communities an affordable alternative to kerosene, which is ubiquitous but hazardous. The quality of the kerosene lamp light isn't good, it emits pollutants, and it's just plain dangerous. "You travel around these villages, and everyone has a story of a child being burned or a house destroyed by fire," says Tozun, speaking to Fortune by phone from his office in Shenzhen, China. "And yet in some places we found that people were spending 15% to 20% of their income on light." The world's poor spend about $38 billion a year on kerosene for lighting, according to the International Finance Corp.

According to Fortune magazine, the D.light lamps sell for about $25, steep for someone earning $1 per day, but the D.light team quickly found that the quality of light was so good that people with the D.light lamps were able to do more work at night and increase their income. Two families in New Keringa, a village of 47 families in southern India, took the plunge on D.light lamps. Says Tozun: "All of a sudden the two families were able to work at night," mostly weaving banana leaves into plates. "Their average monthly income increased from $12 to $18, and they could save the time spent traveling to buy more kerosene." Within a few days the entire village had sprung for the lights. "These people are great customers if you give them a clear value proposition," Tozun says.

In November, D.light raised $6 million in venture capital funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Garage Technology Ventures, among other venture capital firms, to ramp up production and get its lamps into markets, initially in India and Africa.

Empowering would-be customers is one of the mantras of Patell's class at Stanford. Each year some students, like Goldman and Tozun, take their ideas and try to build businesses. Patell doesn't expect every student to start a company, but he does demand that every product in the class offer poor consumers tools for their own microenterprises. "We want to design things so that a farmer can decide to leave his farm and support his family selling water pumps or drip-irrigation tubing," Patell says. "We want things to be sold at a price that covers the cost of manufacturing and distribution."


The need and the opportunity for social entrepreneurs have never been greater. Both SaafWater and D.light are examples of what the institutions of higher learning can do to encourage such entrepreneurship catering to the needs of the billions of poor people in Africa, Latin America and South Asia who can potentially become a huge new lucrative market. What is needed is for the budding entrepreneurs to recognize such opportunities to offer highly useful and essential products at extremely affordable prices. Educational institutions in Pakistan and India can and should play a leading role to encourage and prepare them to do good and do well, and investors should open their minds to see the great opportunities that lie ahead for them to make good returns on such investments.

Related Links:

Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship

iGenius Goes Big in Pakistan

India's Innovative Social Entrepreneurs

Youth Engagement Services (YES) Network in Pakistan

Water Shortage in Pakistan

United Nations World Water Development Report

Water Resource Management in Pakistan

Water Supply and Sanitation in Pakistan

Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness

China Profile

Safe Drinking water and Hygiene Promotion in Pakistan

UN Millennium Development Goals in Pakistani Village

Orangi Pilot Project

Three Cups of Tea

Volunteerism in America

Dr. Akhtar Hamid Khan's Vision

Comments

Anand said…
Great post on social entrepreneurs and highlighting a couple of fantastic ventures in SaafWater and D.Light.

Wanted to share a few things that I thought might be of interest to you and your readers.

First, our platform ChubbyBrain is seeking to democratize information about innovative startups and the investors that back them. We currently have 15,300+ global startups across green/clean tech to healthcare to web and also are cataloging investor-backed social entrepreneurs and investors focusing on these ventures (for example, the Omidyar Network.

At present, we have over 100 ventures tagged as social entrepreneur. By way of example, D.Light's company profile is given below.

http://www.chubbybrain.com/companies/dlightdesign

We also have nearly 200 startups in India and continue to expand our coverage of the area.

A recent guest post on our blog discussed the topic of social entrepreneurship issue as well which may be of interest. It is entitled Why Defining Social Entrepreneur is a Waste of Time

We hope our platform and the above would be of interest and look forward to reading more on South Asia Investor Review.

If you'd be interested in guest blogging on ChubbyBrain, do let us know.

Warm regards,
Anand
team(at)chubbybrain.com
twitter - @ChubbyBrain
saeedabasi said…
Would u visit and review my SEMFO Global Plan Project http://www.semfo.blogspot.com too please?
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Christian Science Monitor report about inexpensive health insurance for the poor in Pakistan:

Karachi, Pakistan

Wilayat Shah, a security guard at the luxury Avari Towers Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, was rushed to a hospital last December after experiencing headaches and losing consciousness at work.

Unlike the wealthy patrons of the hotel he guarded, the father of four wouldn't ordinarily have had access to top-notch medical treatment.

But thanks to a health-care program run by the nonprofit Naya Jeevan (New Life), Mr. Shah, who earns just $150 a month, paid nothing for the MRI scans and treatment he received, worth some $1,400. He now has returned to work.

Shah is one of some 13,000 low-income workers in Pakistan signed on to the Naya Jeevan program. It was founded in 2007 by surgeon-turned-social entrepreneur Asher Hasan and began operating in Pakistan last summer.

"In Pakistan, privileged people can afford their care," Dr. Hasan explains. "The poor, who work alongside the rich, were just excluded from the system."

Hasan left a successful career in the United States to return to Pakistan, where he had spent his formative years, on a mission to provide affordable health care to low-income workers.

He lived a "clichéd life," he says, with a résumé that includes an MBA from New York University, research work at Harvard Medical School, and a stint as a senior executive at a California-based pharmaceutical company.

"I knew there was much more I could be doing in Pakistan," Hasan says.

By working with insurance companies to spread risk across clusters of low-income workers, who typically earn less than $200 a month, Naya Jeevan opens up high-quality health care to a segment of the population that couldn't afford it before.

Each participant pays in about $1.80 per month. The maximum catastrophic payout is $1,800 per year – the average cost of heart bypass surgery at a good private hospital in Pakistan, Hasan says.

That low monthly premium, which he calculates as roughly 2.1 percent of the monthly income of the working poor, as well as the absence of deductibles and copayments, is "commendable," says Farasat Bokhari, a Pakistani-American health economist at King's College in London.

"More impressive is the fact that they have contracts with a large number of private hospitals, which are presumably of higher quality compared with the public hospitals, which are severely underfunded," Mr. Bokhari says.

Last year, the Pakistani government spent an average of $18 per person for health care, one of the consequences of its struggle to deal with an ongoing battle against Islamist insurgents on its western border and the aftermath of last year's catastrophic floods.
-----
Hasan has first-hand experience. Born in London into a middle-class family, his mother moved him and his three sisters to Karachi following the death of their father in 1983. On a trip back to Britain, Hasan's mother suffered a nervous breakdown. She had no contact with her children for the next three years.

During this time, Hasan grew close to the children of his maid. While his education was provided for by the colleagues and friends of his late father, his maid was unable to tap any wealthy connections when her father fell seriously ill, forcing her to withdraw her children from school.

"I realized that a single catastrophic event can lead to the perpetuation of the cycle of poverty," he says. "We had to create a system which could break that cycle."
---------
The next step after that, he says, will be to work with other major institutions to sign up 2.5 million Pakistanis and lobby the federal government to set up a similar program of private health-care insurance nationwide.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistanis have less favorable attitude towards entrepreneurship than the people living in other countries under similar economic conditions, according to a report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) released here on Saturday.

GEM is an international research consortium, which measures entrepreneurial activity of individuals in 59 countries.

The GEM report on Pakistan for 2010, which was sponsored in the country by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Development of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), divides 59 countries into three categories: Factor-driven economies, efficiency-driven economies and innovation-driven economies. Pakistan falls into the category of factor-driven economies.

Explaining the objectives of the research, Centre for Entrepreneurial Development Associate Director Dr Shahid Qureshi said it measured entrepreneurial attitudes, activity and aspirations through in-depth review of individual entrepreneurial characteristics of the adult (18-64) population in all parts of the country.

“It also lists factors that affect the level of entrepreneurial activity in society besides making suggestions to promote entrepreneurship,” Qureshi said.

According to the report, the new business ownership rate, which is the percentage of owner-managers of a business that is three to 42 months old, is 2.7% in Pakistan. It is ‘considerably less’ than the average rate for factor-driven economies (11.8%).

The established business ownership rate in Pakistan is 4.7%, according to the study, which is less than the average rate for factor-driven economies (12.6%).

The report’s key measure of entrepreneurship in a society is total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) rate, which is the sum of the nascent entrepreneurship rate and the new business-manager rate. According to the study, the TEA rate for Pakistan is 9.08%, which is lower than the average TEA rate for the factor-driven economies (11.7%).

The report says that early-stage entrepreneurs and business managers in Pakistan have low aspirations to grow as compared to most GEM participating countries. Besides, the report says that 27.73% of the total working-age population, including those who are entrepreneurially active, was of the view that fear of failure would prevent them from starting a business. However, the fear of failure in Pakistani population is less than the average of the factor-driven economies.

Speaking on the occasion, IBA Director and Dean Dr Ishrat Husain said the cost of IBA’s affiliation with Babson College of the United States was $1 million a year. “Despite all financial constraints, we’re not going to give up the affiliation.” Husain said that out of the national workforce of 50 million people, the large-scale manufacturing sector employed only one million people. He said a majority of the 49 million people was employed by the agricultural sector and small and medium-size enterprises.

Addressing the ceremony, Sindh Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said he dropped out of IBA after taking one semester many years ago. In contrast to the findings of the report, which emphasised the importance of entrepreneurship education, Shah said it was more about the urge within oneself. “Don’t count on others. Follow your gut feeling and do what you want,” he said.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/311603/global-entrepreneurship-monitor-pakistanis-less-enthusiastic-about-entrepreneurship/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's PakistanToday on Acumen Foundation and JS partnership to promote social change in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD - The Acumen Fund and JS have launched Pakistan Fellows Programme aiming to develop the social change leaders of next generation who are building innovative businesses and strong institutions across the country.
The Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty across Africa and in South Asia, hosted an event on Sunday to introduce the first class of Acumen Pakistan Fellows, said a statement issued here on Monday.
In partnership with JS Bank, the Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, Acumen was working to develop the next generation of social change leaders who were building innovative businesses and strong institutions across Pakistan.
Twenty individuals have been selected out of over 500 candidates to participate in this year-long training, while simultaneously continuing to pursue their social impact initiatives.
Fellows’ initiatives range from creating an interest-free microfinance institution, to a disaster relief project and to a teaching training programme. In addition to a presentation given by the newly selected Pakistan Fellows, the launch event featured remarks by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO of Acumen Fund, and Edmond de Rothschild Foundations Executive Director Firoz Ladak.
“Pakistan today faces many challenges, and we need new leaders who are dedicated to creating a better future for this country,” said Acumen Fund Pakistan Country Director Farrukh Khan. “It is exciting to help develop a community of leaders with the financial skills, operational excellence and moral imagination to address pressing social issues and we’re humbled by the support and interest we’ve received from our partners and local community.”
“The depth and breadth of talent in the applicant pool size is evidence that the people of this nation want to seek ways to improve the prevailing conditions and challenge the existing status quo,” stated Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation CEO Ali J. Siddiqui, “With this inaugural class of bright and ambitious individuals, we are creating a brighter future of this country by providing the tools and the knowledge required to develop a new generation of Pakistani leaders.”
The Pakistan Fellows programme was just one part of Acumen’s investment in leadership and community of the Acumen Fund alumni network.
The East Africa Regional Fellows Program was in its second year and just selected its fellows for 2013.
Acumen intends to launch similar Regional Fellows Programs in India and West Africa in the coming years.
Additionally, Acumen Fund had invested over $ 7 million in Pakistan since 2001, focusing on a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses-in agriculture, housing, health, water and energy-that use market-based approaches to deliver products and services to millions of rural and urban poor.
Recent additions to Acumen Fund Pakistan’s portfolio include the NRSP (National Rural Support Program) Microfinance Bank, which was the first agency in Pakistan to provide financial services to rural agricultural markets, and Pharmagen Healthcare Ltd, which supplies safe, clean, and affordable drinking water to low-income residents in Lahore.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/01/22/news/profit/acumen-fund-and-js-launch-pakistan-fellows-programme/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Guardian report on social entrepreneurship in Pakistan:

The social enterprise landscape in Pakistan is nascent but fast-growing. From diverse sectors ranging from dairy farms to educational hubs to micro drip irrigation, early-stage enterprises have the potential of achieving hybrid financial return and social impact. Crucially, they are attracting interest from impact investors and business angels alike.

But how can these entrepreneurs be better financed, nurtured and trained?

Crucially, funding for small enterprises should meet the specific needs of the entrepreneur from seed financing to venture capital to growth equity. Social entrepreneurs need financial, but also non-financial, support such as mentoring, implementation guidance, and skills training development. Business school 'accelerator' programs and incubator hubs, which aim to accelerate the development of successful enterprises through such support mechanisms, combined with strong policy frameworks, can help create a long-term, self-sustaining ecosystem.

A report launched today by the Economic Policy Group (EPG) explores how incubator hubs can unlock the innovation potential of Pakistan's social entrepreneurs.

Successful incubator models already exist in some of Pakistan's premier business schools. The country's top business school, the IBA in Karachi, has in fact launched a partnership with Invest2Innovate (i2i), a social impact intermediary, to fast track the best entrepreneurs through its i2i Accelerator, a four-month program providing access to quality entrepreneurship education, skills, and opportunities.

"The IBA-i2i partnership helps start-ups who have passion and ability, but not the resources, to start their own businesses. It is a necessary step for growing and scaling viable businesses in the Pakistani market," says Kalsoom Lakhani, founder of i2i.

Other independent incubators across Pakistan, such as the Pasha Social Innovation Fund and Women's Business Incubation Centre, work with entrepreneurs across demographic segments in both rural and urban areas. The rise in popularity of these players is largely due to their ability to harness technology and digital media as communication platforms to empower entrepreneurs.

In the northern areas of Pakistan, where honey is one of the main agricultural commodities, Hashoo Foundation's Honeybee Project provided women beekeepers with beehives, as well as the associated training programmes to transfer this specialised skill-set to the wider community.
------------
According to Dr Iman Bibars, regional director of Ashoka Arab World, "creating awareness for the potential of entrepreneurship among policymakers, relevant institutions and the public at large is essential to help establish an enabling environment that social entrepreneurs can flourish in."

On a macro level, the investment in human talent and institutions will raise both investor confidence and entrepreneurial confidence in the country. By changing minsets through incubator hubs, education, mentoring and training programmes, a strong enabling environment for social entrepreneurship can be fostered in Pakistan.


http://socialenterprise.guardian.co.uk/social-enterprise-network/2013/feb/07/pakistan-social-entrepreneurs-innovation-potential
Riaz Haq said…
The term social enterprise may be relatively new in Pakistan but it is gaining popularity in its areas of development.

While it may be an unfamiliar concept for many engaged in local grassroots businesses they can nevertheless see the potential of engaging in ventures which have a social impact.

According to the Opportunity Pakistan Report – produced by i-genius, an initiative supporting social entrepreneurs worldwide – despite the country’s social and political unrest, it offers opportunities for investment and innovation.

“Countries experiencing transition are fertile places for new ideas to thrive”, said Shivang Patel, commission coordinator of i-genius. “Despite media attention in the west on all things bad in the region we found a country progressing through slow but significant positive reforms. There is considerable untapped potential for social businesses”.

A new wave of creative and confident young entrepreneurs has emerged developing innovative start ups in areas such as environment, health and skills. Scores of young women and men from remote areas of Pakistan are becoming social entrepreneurs.

A longstanding lack of investment in Pakistan’s public sector has prompted local business leaders to invest in ideas which tackle issues such as water and sanitation problems as well as those which can address its energy and environmental concerns.

One such example is Pharmagen Water. Established in 2007,it aims to provide poor communities in Pakistan’s second largest city, Lahore, with affordable clean and purified drinking water. It is supported by the Acumen, which invests in entrepreneurs and creates venture capital which can provide solutions to causes of poverty.

Another business offering a solution to parts of Pakistan’s energy strapped areas is SRE Solutions. Established just last year with Acumen’s support it offers to harness solar energy for off-grid customers in districts of Punjab and Khayber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Similarly a low-cost engineering and construction enterprise, Ghonsla, was set up in the aftermath of Pakistan’s devastating earthquake in 2005. With 73,000 people killed and large parts of its cities and villages destroyed in the north by the disaster, the plight of 2.5 million people left homeless hung in the balance

The initial funding for Ghonsla’s pilot project came from Seed, Social Entrepreneurship and Equity Development, a venture which supports startups and grassroots innovations.

Its incubation centres in Pakistan provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs in their early years of startup.

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/oct/10/social-enterprise-is-an-emerging-force-in-pakistan

http://www.i-genius.org/
Riaz Haq said…
Opportunity Pakistan Report by i-genius commission on social entrepreneurship:

In September 2013, fifteen people (Commissioners) from Australia, Italy, Pakistan and the United Kingdom, embarked on a journey to a country which for many was an entirely new experience. The aim was to discover the true story of a country which much has been written about but few, outsiders at least, have understood. The prism of this journey was social entrepreneurship – a form of business whereby the initiators explicitly seek to develop businesses to achieve a social or environmental benefit.

This Report seeks to articulate what the Commission discovered. Yes, it illustrates the many problems facing Pakistan but as any entrepreneur - social or otherwise - knows, such problems represent opportunities.
Pakistan’s problems present Pakistan with opportunities. Pakistan is a highly complex country. No body of people, however well intentioned, can hope to capture the magnitude of this complexity in a short visit of several days. But this, we trust, is an
authentic and considered portrayal of what we found.
All members of the Commission were agreed, Pakistan is a land of opportunity
---------

The Commission, convened by i-genius, comprising 15 members from UK, Italy, Australia and Pakistan,
visited Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Punjab to ascertain the opportunities and challenges facing the
development of social entrepreneurship and innovation. In understanding its work, the Commission was
mindful of the positive changes taking place such as the historic transfer of power from one
democratically elected government to another, the talent residing amongst young people, the growing
empowerment of women and the long tradition of social giving.
The Commission was impressed by the optimism and resilience of all those it encountered in both urban
and rural communities, but it does not underestimate the enormous hurdles Pakistan faces in
overcoming corruption and division within its society, which are the primary barriers to fulfilling its
potential.
Social entrepreneurs are people who create businesses to promote social or environmental
improvement. The agenda for social innovation and entrepreneurship in Pakistan and beyond is to build
sustainable businesses and institutions for all the people of Pakistan.
The guide for all stakeholders who desire a prosperous and inclusive economy should be to make easier
the journey of those who desire to improve their country. The commission believes Pakistan has
considerable untapped potential amongst all sections of society which needs to be recognised and
supported.
A full report will be published in the coming weeks which will include recommendations for political
leaders, corporations, NGOs, finance and by specific sections of society including the wealthy elite. The
Commission encourages relevant government ministries to integrate social entrepreneurship and
innovation into government policy. It is willing to contribute to this process by sharing better practice
from other parts of the world.


http://www.i-genius.org/images/Opportunity-Pakistan-Final-Report.pdf

Popular posts from this blog

China Sees Opportunity Where Others See Risk

Smartphones For Digital & Financial Inclusion in Pakistan

Economic Comparison Between Bangladesh & Pakistan