Social Entrepreneurship and Market Access
GVT sees social entrepreneurship as the process of bringing about social change on a major scale. Social entrepreneurs function as the agents of change, questioning the status, grabbing the new yet overlooked opportunities, and changing the world for the better. They recognize when a section of the society is stuck and offer innovative ways to break out of its stagnant state. They detect resources while others see problems. They consider the affected people as part of the solution and not as passive beneficiaries. GVT’s long association of working with the marginalized communities has made it realize that social entrepreneurship is quietly revolutionizing the less privileged sections of India. Just as entrepreneurs change the face of the business, social entrepreneurs’ act as the change agents for the society, seizing the opportunities which others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for better.
A drive by GVT for initiating and promoting social entrepreneurship has been a rare and yet a very apt innovation in social sector, which could be a feather in the cap for espousing farmers’ cause in the most business savvy way. There are a large number of intelligent people in rural areas having good business sense and understanding of the local dynamics, but are unable to scale up their activities for want of capital and their inability to take benefit of existing funding schemes of government and funding agencies like NABARD. Therefore, by promoting social entrepreneurship, GVT is not attempting to do something that has not been done before; government and NABARD like agencies already have such schemes for promoting entrepreneurship. What GVT aims to innovate is to tap the right persons, involve farmers and identify successful business models by aligning interests of all stakeholders in such a way that their gains are directly related to success of the project.
GVT promotes social entrepreneurship in the manner suggested above by identifying farm and non-farm activities having the potential of being converted into business opportunities, which could be scaled up and transferred over geographies to involve maximum number of farmers. GVT then identifies local partners, group of farmers and people with matching capabilities to run and manage such initiatives. These partners are not being paid salaries or allowances. Instead, they get a share in the revenue or profit generated through the initiative matching with their contribution. GVT initially introduces a seed capital needed to run the business. All the other partners also either contribute some capital or are obliged to contribute to the initiative in kind; in the form of time, labour or other forms of resources like land and building. A right person with a right idea or business model, who may be willing to run an initiative by committing himself and his time to the initiative, could be made a partner for his contribution by way of sweat equity. This way, the stakeholders gain only when the business does well. In such initiatives, benefits from existing government and funding agencies’ schemes are taken, wherever possible.
GVT has undertaken a couple of initiatives in this regard in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In Patna (Bihar it has initiated the CART concept whereby several farmers with an interest and drive towards undertaking business activities are provided a cycle cart on which they carry fresh vegetables and fruits from the nearby villages to the city to sell. The investment towards buying of these cycle carts has been made by GVT. Seeing this pilot experiment, others in the same vicinity have formed groups to supply fresh vegetables and fruits to these entrepreneurs who are also from the same villages. The proceeds from the sell are being reinvested for buying high yielding variety and better quality seeds. In a way, this pilot initiative has created an interest among the nearby villagers to go for better quality high yeilding varieties and fresh vegetable & fruit cultivation. Since the fresh fruits and vegetables are directly bought from the farmers and in some cases it is being directly sold by the farmers on the carts supplied by GVT, the price of these fruits and vegetables remains relatively cheaper than those sold at mandis through the middleman. GVT aims to replicate this model in its other geographically operational areas.
Another similar initiative is undertaken on a pilot scale at Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh is production and marketing of fresh vegetables. GVT has taken a piece of land in the KRIBHCO Shyam Fertilizers (KSFL) compound to produce vegetables using the latest technologies and high yielding variety seeds. It has made arrangements with mandis in Shahjahanpur & Delhi and with Bigbazar in Sonipat and Mother dairy at Mangalpuri in Delhi. GVT is building the capacities of the farmers in and around the district of Shahjahanpur and persuading them to use bio-fertilizers and better high yielding seeds for producing organic vegetables. In the process it is also forming groups of farmers and linking them to financial institutions.