What is holding back the social entrepreneur
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Ramasubbu Shankar, given his ordnance factories background, likes to cite the works of Lieutenant General Mikhail Kalashnikov, who developed the versatile AK-47 series of assault rifles. Just like the late Russian officer, Shankar, with just an engineering diploma, revels in tinkering. He doesn’t possess strong academic credentials but betrays an intuitive hold on engineering from his decades of hands-on work in defence-related technologies.
“You know why Kalashnikov could do it? Because he was a soldier,” says Shankar, implying researchers in fancy labs are far removed from the needs of those on the field. Shankar, therefore quit the ordnance services a couple of years ago to pursue his dreams of “designing something which would benefit society and rural India” and quickly realised he had no clue on how and where to start.
He soon receded into doing contract jobs in automation for companies in Chennai, leaving weekends for his tinkering. The money was good but he was restive. “I was running an engineering paan shop,” he says, till someone pointed him to Villgro, a Chennai-based incubator for social entrepreneurs.