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Announcing the finalists of Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) India 2018 Award

Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog, Government of India is the Chief Guest

New Delhi, Monday, October 8, 2018

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the sister organisation of the World Economic Forum and the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation of Jubilant Bhartia Group today announced the finalists of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY)- India 2018 Award. The finalists for this prestigious Award were identified based on rigorous due diligence process. This year, the Award will be presented by Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog, Government of India on October 11 in New Delhi.

The three finalists are:

  • Smita Ram and Ramakrishna N.K of Rang De, Bengaluru
  • Prema Gopalan of Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), Pune
  • Jessica Mayberry & Stalin K of Video Volunteers (VV), Goa

The SEOY India Award brings some of the most remarkable change makers from the country onto a common platform. These social entrepreneurs are promising changemakers and self-starters, with a strong inclination towards addressing the most pertinent needs of the marginalised communities in both scalable and sustainable ways. Their endeavours encapsulate alleviating poverty, hunger, gender inequality, promoting women empowerment, education. These social entrepreneurs are the torch-bearers who have taken the onus of working towards managing micro-finance needs and daunting challenges like climate change. The tenets of this year’s finalists are aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. They have demonstrated their unwavering commitment in finding answers to new age problems with their technology driven, scalable, sustainable and innovative solutions.

Over the years, SEOY India Award is one of the most reputed & coveted award for country’s social entrepreneurs. The Award bestows adulation and honours the finest model in social entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur who have been instrumental in nurturing a dream of articulating value for their community. The three finalists of 2018 are working with the Government as well as Private Partnerships to herald grass-root transformations, through their enterprise and sustainable models.

Congratulating the finalists, Mrs Hilde Schwab, Co-founder & Chairperson, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship said, “The calibre of all finalist candidates is truly impressive. They all deserve recognition for their ground-breaking work to create a more inclusive India.”

Applauding the finalists, Mr. Shyam S Bhartia, Chairman & Founder and Mr. Hari S Bhartia, Co-Chairman & Founder, Jubilant Bhartia Group and Founder Directors of Jubilant Bhartia Foundation, said, “This is the ninth year of our enriching partnership with the Schwab Foundation. Through this association, we have been able to showcase the best and highlight various social issues and numerous possible ways to solve those. The platform of SEOY India Award has brought to the forefront, impactful social entrepreneurs bringing about a positive change and providing innovative solutions to the community. The three finalists of this year are unique in their own individual way.”

The SEOY India 2018 Award opened in March this year and received over 107 applications of exceptional quality. Through a five-stage selection process, the finalists were shortlisted after on-site visits, background research, reference checks and multiple rounds of deliberations. Education sector (47%) leads the nomination tally followed by Health (44%), Environment (43%) & Rural Development (42%). The other sectors which participated most actively were Enterprise Development, Technology, Water sanitation, communication/media and Microfinance.

Brief Descriptions of the Finalists

Bengaluru, Karnataka

Rang De is building bridges between India’s credit-starved communities and ordinary citizens who contribute to meet the education, health and enterprise needs of resource-poor populations. Working on the premise of ‘Micro-investment for Micro-loans’ Rang De has till date disbursed INR 70 crore, from 14000 social investors and philanthropists to benefit 60,000 families. By doing so, it has unlocked unusual channels of capital for India’s poorest.

Rejecting the high interest rates charged by MFIs, the couple established Rang De in 2008. Dipping into the interest of urban individuals in making a difference, they designed India’s first peer-to-peer lending platform. To ensure loans reach those who need it the most, Rang De collaborates with local NGOs to identify and ratify borrowers. The profiles and loan requests are published on the platform where its community of changemakers (lenders) select the causes or people they want to invest in.

Buoyed by the passionate engagement of their changemakers, and to reach the vast majority of India’s poor, Ram and Smita are taking the next logical step to scaling their model and are setting up a Non-Banking Financial Company.

Pune, Maharashtra

Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) has made it to the list of finalists for the second time and has been instrumental in revitalizing rural economies by putting women in charge. Working in areas affected by global climate change, it has unleashed women farmers, entrepreneurs and grassroots business leaders who are solving the problems of their communities through small businesses.

Prema and her team have built vibrant eco-systems to enable 145,000 women to succeed in remote and ailing markets. The SSP model comprises four ventures: a federated network of 5000 SHGs; a resilience fund for women-led businesses; a rural school of entrepreneurship and leadership for women; and a market aggregator that provides warehousing, branding, marketing and distribution services to last-mile business women. In addition, it has catalyzed the government, investors, financial institutions and Indian and global corporations to partner directly with grassroots women business leaders.

SSP’s grassroots women entrepreneurs are taking their communities forward as part of their business success. As SSP collaborates with the government to scale its model, it is demonstrating that investing in rural women entrepreneurs can be a solid strategy for transforming India.

Goa, Maharashtra

70% of India lives in its villages. But less than 2% of media content relates to rural and marginal communities. As internet penetrates into remote locations, rural communities are becoming passive consumers of media; not active creators of content that will give them voice and representation.

To upturn this, Video Volunteers is building a community media model that enables marginalized citizens to become media content producers and use it to right the wrongs. VV has set up India Unheard – the country’s largest grassroots news agency that brings high quality video news reports from 200 of India’s poorest and ‘media-dark’ districts. 250 trained Community Correspondents (CCs) flank out into 2000 villages to conceive, produce and edit news videos on their mobile phones. They drill up ‘news by those who live it, telling stories that mainstream audiences typically don’t want to know.

The CC’s come from Adivasi, Dalit, religious and sexual minority communities. All live before the poverty line. 57% among them are women (against 25% representation of women in national mainstream media). Their stories focus on gender, violence, untouchability, education, hunger, health, sanitation, forced eviction and other burning issues. Their videos are broadcasted on mainstream news channels and digital media platforms. They are screened in remote corners by hyper local civil society networks.  

Over 15 years, VV has published more than 5600 news videos and registered 4 million You Tube views a month. 25% or 1 in 4 videos have created impact – i.e. resolved the issue that they raised - leading 4 lakh people to live improved lives. 300,000 rural citizens have viewed the videos through community screenings and 200,000 have engaged in action to change what they see around them. 400 government officials have been moved to reverse discriminatory norms.

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