Scott Anderson

Previewing Grassroots: Social Profit

I recently spoke with Amrit Pal, at Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, who is leading Public Relations, Media and Partnerships regarding a new conference in India: Grassroots:Social Profit. The event is set for Jan. 15 at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science-Pilani, K.K. Birla Goa Campus, India (Directions here). Registration is open to all at here. This is the first time “Grassroots: Social Profit” has been organized. First of all, how do you define “Social Profit”?

Amrit Pal: The term “Social Profit,” embodies social value-creation in conjugation with sustained economic viability. At a very micro level, it symbolizes the power of a “transaction.” Every time a transaction is freely made, both the involved parties win. A seemingly rudimentary activity like selling detergent to a BoP consumer leads to better sanitation, better health and productivity to the buyer while simultaneously helping the seller to scale up operations, in order to render even better services to the consumer.

In short, it’s being socially profitable and profitably social.

Which organizations were the driving forces behind this event, and what are their goals and objectives for attendees?

The event is being hosted by Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) based at Birla Institute of Techonology and Science, Pilani (Goa Campus). CEL is a founding member of the National Entrepreneurship Network, aimed at creating leaders through entrepreneurial thinking. It has been the breeding ground for numerous start-ups by providing them access to mentors, incubation and knowledge in diverse domains such as technology, social web, rural development, consultancy, et al.

Grassroots is powered by MentorEdge (initiated by the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad). It is a country-wide structured network of mentors aimed at helping entrepreneurs get the winning edge through advisory support on various strategic and operational decisions.

The event is being organized under the patronage of National Social Entrepreneurship Forum (NSEF). Founded at BITS Pilani and IIM Lucknow, it is the leading student-based movement for social enterprise in India. Via its NSEF Authors programme, it selects students and connects them to leading social enterprises in India to give them a real-time experience of operating a social business.

Who should attend?

Fundamentally, everyone willing to drive tangible change in the world and wants a booting point to do so.

Students/academics/professionals who are interested in joining over 1,000 people to witness some of India’s most pioneering social change-makers on one stage and share their journeys. The event spans verticals like Energy, ICT, Microfinance, Sanitation, Mobile Technology and the cross-sector combination of these in creating “Social Profit.”

Emerging Entrepreneurs: Grassroots would be inviting brief abstracts of ideas in seed stage to be scrutinised. The best five get access to guidance by MentorEdge’s expert panel of mentors to help scale the ideas.

The event is based in Goa, India. What is the significance of holding the event there?

Goa is globally viewed with a tourism spectacle. The picturesque state also possesses a niche breed of small-time entrepreneurs and a student-demography that has remained largely alienated from the entrepreneurial ecosystem. By facilitating tools like mentorship, venture capital and networking, maverick change-makers can be coagulated into a movement. The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership seeks to expose the latent talent to a vast array of opportunities and enable the audience with a perspective to view “problems as opportunities.” To reinforce the same, the event is a confluence of India’s most renowned social entrepreneurs and mentors. Tell us about your speaker lineup and panel sessions?

Amrit Pal: The speaker lineup features Gyanesh Pandey, founder and CTO/CEO of Husk Power Systems, an energy-based enterprise, providing electricity using rice husk to over 1 million people in regions designated as “economically unviable and off the grid” by the Government of India.

Manoj Kumar, CEO of the Naandi Foundation, one of India’s largest non-profits working in domains of Child Rights, Safe Drinking Water and Sustainable Livelihoods will be talking about introducing a gradual shift in the business model from Philanthropic to socio-entrepreneurial lines.

Osama Manzar, a convert social entrepreneur spearheading the mission to overcome the information barrier between India’s rural sector, and the developed society, through Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).

Nandini Vaidyanathan, Professor of Entrepreneurship at reputed business schools, would be chairing panel discussion about “Venture Capital in Social Enterprise” and “Attracting talent in a Social Enterprise,” which will include all the speakers as panellists.

Rikin Gandhi, CEO, Digital Green, would be shedding light on sustainable agriculture and technology for socioeconomic development.

Biplab Saha, CEO, Source for Change, would be examining the dynamics of the Rural BPO sector and its role in women empowerment.

Abhinav Sinha, Vice President, Eko India Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. would discuss the nuances of a business model which works on the fundamental premise of giving everyone a bank account. Where can people register and what is the fee?

Amrit Pal: A nominal registration fee of INR 100 will be recovered to support logistics for the speakers. To ensure availability of slots, kindly visit this link.