Punjab, known primarily for its Agriculture, was our destination for the Network Expansion Workshop. It was sixth in the series of workshops organised by CIIE in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH across the country. It was a wonderful experience to co-host the workshop with Thapar University at L M Thapar School of Management in Dera Bassi, Mohali on February 20 and 21, 2015.
While the notion behind the series of workshops is building a vibrant and active regional ecosystem, the specific purpose that the workshop served was providing a platform for its participants to explore synergies. The participating delegates included representatives from various support organisations (such as NGOs, Academic Institutions, Regional Bodies, Foundations) as well as social enterprises. The broader aim, however, was to sensitise the support organisations about the social enterprises and also identify different avenues to support the latter.
The need for providing such support is clearly highlighted by the fewer number of social enterprises existing in the region and multiple issues plaguing the region; air pollution being one of the primary concerns. The need was further emphasised upon by Dr. Padmakumar Nair, Director of L M Thapar School of Management as he remarked, “Social enterprise is the need of the hour as the fruits of development and tech advancement have till now been used mostly to solve the problems of the ‘rich’ and as a result very little has been done to provide solutions to the concerns and needs of the have nots”.
The first day of the workshop began with a round of introductions about L M Thapar School of Management (by Dr. Karminder Ghuman), GIZ (by Katharina Kuehn), and CIIE (by Ashwin Joshi). The opening trailed into a brief overview about the workshop by Chintan Bakshi (Startup Oasis, CIIE) and was followed by informal introductions by the participating delegates from different support organisations. Post the introductions, Dr. Nair (Director, L M Thapar School of Management) initiated the discussions for the day underlining the need for the social enterprises and the competition existing in the entrepreneurial space. He engaged the representatives from the support organisations with discussions on topics ranging between quantifying negative externality, using science as an opportunity to design useful things, and the role of support organisations in aiding the social enterprises. He cited examples to stress on the importance of creating things that are useful rather than only logical and put forward the significance of using Design Thinking to look at constraints as opportunities for innovation. The open ended discussion culminated into delegates expressing their views along with a sequence of questions emerging there from.
Post lunch, the support organisations were divided into three groups and each of the groups took a deeper dive into unlocking support infrastructure for social enterprises through case discussions. The case discussions were around three social enterprises, namely, Aakar Innovations Private Limited, Barrix Agro Science and Sickle Innovations Private Limited. The groups were independently facilitated by Sombodhi Ghosh (Aakar Innovations), Lokesh Makam (Barrix Agro Science), and Nitin Gupta (Sickle Innovations). The facilitated conversation helped the support organisations understand how the social enterprise has grown since its inception, the supports it has received from various ecosystem stakeholders and its future plans. With the same context in purview, the support organisations also explored the contributions it can offer as a group towards the growth of these social enterprises. In a parallel session on ‘Service Blueprinting’, Ashwin Joshi helped the social entrepreneurs understand their customer journey through the three phases of service experience: line of interaction, line of visibility, and line of internal interaction. The discussions from the session overflowed into the ensuing tea break and later on into one to one discussions.
After the tea break, the representatives of the support organisations and social entrepreneurs assembled to deliberate on creating a collaborative support environment. The support organisations were segregated into three teams and the social enterprises joined these teams as per their current requirement. As the teams reflected upon the problems pertaining to the growth of the social enterprises, they also contemplated on the requirements of building an ecosystem for the sectors that the social entrepreneurs in the group represented. The reflections from the session culminated into each team putting down their thoughts in two sections: ‘what can the group do’ and ‘what should be done but the group cannot offer at the moment’. Led by Chintan Bakshi, the entire congregation then deliberated over the issues that have emerged in the two sections. The forethought aided in understanding the collective offerings from the entire group to create a collaborative environment for the social entrepreneurs. The talks continued during the dinner as the day came to an end.
The late night discussions had helped the participants to open up and evidently, networking was the essence of the second day of workshop. The day started with the support organisations pitching their offerings and progressed into presentations from the social entrepreneurs highlighting their products, services and requirements. The proposals and presentations were short and effective, thus bringing out the requirements in brief. The pitching session concluded with the lunch break, post which the rest of the day was set for networking. An array of structured meetings followed by the unstructured meetings helped the delegates interact, think through and come up with ideas in which they can help one another.
The workshop was received very positively by support organisations as well as social enterprises, thus validating the hypothesis that there is a need to create a collaborative network for supporting social entrepreneurship. The workshop concluded on a positive note with delegates departing with appreciation and constructive feedbacks. It also created strong connects between the participants eager to help in creating the regional ecosystem for the social entrepreneurs.
List of Participants
- Mahesh Yadav (FOSTINNO)
- Mahesh Kuman and Harsh Goyal (Ummed)
- Nagaraja Prakasam (Acumen fund / IAN)
- Ajay Rastogi (Foundation for Contemplation of Nature)
- Sumeer Walia (Startup Accelerator Chamber of Commerce)
- Dr. Amar Singh Azad (Kheti Virasat Mission)
- Dr. Sandeep Kapur (School of Business Studies, Punjab Agricultural University)
- Anurag Maloo (UPGlobal)
- Sunil Bansal (Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development)
- Shruti Chatwal (ISB Mohali)
- Rahul Nainwal (UNLtd Delhi)
- Om Prakash and Sharad Bansal (SrJna)
- Nitin Gandhi (LBD Makers)
- Kundan Kumar (Kad Bioresources Pvt Ltd)
- Satyam Malhotra (eWools.in)
- Vibha Tripathi (Swajal)
- Sakshi Sharma (LaterDay Republic)
- Mahvir Singh and Nishtha Kaushik (Zycling)
- Gourav bansal (Fuel Bachao Solutions Pvt Ltd)
- Himanshu Bablani (Ardubotics)