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India has seen exponential growth after its economic liberalization in 1991. But this innovation-fueled growth has been far from inclusive, with 42% of its population living below the international poverty line of USD 1.25 per day. Sustainable and scalable social innovation is essential to address these issues of disparity. Dasra’s report, Growing Social Innovation, discusses the challenges faced by young social innovators, the role of technology in scaling innovations, and the importance of partnering with the government and other stakeholders.
Despite a number of social enterprises working towards alleviating poverty, issues such as low levels of education, poor health outcomes and limited access to inputs for improvement of livelihoods continue to hinder India’s development. For instance, 85% of farm households earn less than USD 1 per day; 20% of global maternal/child deaths occur in India; and only 15% of India’s population has health coverage. Due to the scale and magnitude of these problems, a new phase of social innovation across sectors is needed to build an inclusive and sustainable economic framework. However, social entrepreneurs face numerous challenges, including lack of access to capital, data to make better decisions and human capital ready to grow their careers in the space.
The report makes some suggestions to mitigate these challenges, such as leveraging Information Communication Technology (ICT) to scale social innovation and government support to create institutions that enforce quality standards. It is also recommended to collaborate with key stakeholders to create a well-defined ecosystem with demarcated roles for different stakeholders, which could lead to scalable, high-impact innovations.