24 December 2012
A dictionary defines the word entrepreneur as: ‘One who undertakes an enterprise especially a commercial one, often at personal financial risk….’ So, the term entrepreneurship carries within it a spirit of adventure, the spice of novelty and the expectation of gain. Profit and returns are an intrinsic part of business enterprise by which any businessman assesses the success of his venture.
suggests the willingness to take
¨ Innovation is the creation of something new.
¨ To initiate is to begin / start / introduce.
¨ Impact means a strong influence.
Social entrepreneurship addresses the need for social changes by initiating enterprise. Innovation in the initiatives undertaken to bring about that change are examined to measure the impact they have had on society just as entrepreneurship in business measures performance in terms of profit.
When the term ‘social’ is added to entrepreneurship, the entire phrase is endowed with implications. The goal of social entrepreneurship is improvement and change, especially in the social, environmental and cultural areas of society. Change of this nature is generally associated with the voluntary sector and non-profit agencies. However, making a profit need not be excluded.
The success of social entrepreneurship is measured by the positive impact on society. Ventures intended to bring about social change are assessed by their success in the social, environmental and cultural fields. Even before the action was given a name, social entrepreneurs have sighted opportunities for bringing about changes for the betterment of society. In
alone, Vinoba Bhave pioneered the Bhoodaan
movement, a venture by which he persuaded rich land owners to donate a part
of their land to landless villagers. In more recent times, the names of Ela Bhatt, Verghese Kurien and Bunker Roy
are associated with outstanding
initiatives. Ela Bhatt is the founder of SEWA --- the Self Employed Women’s Association; Verghese Kurien
made milk deficient India
the largest milk producing nation in the world. The AMUL brand is a household name. Bunker India Roy
whose innovative education programs promote rural development. These Social Entrepreneurs are just a few
among several people who are driven by the desire to use their skills and
capabilities to make a difference in the lives of the poor, the marginalized, and
the deprived. Barefoot College
Various types of deprivation provide creative, socially conscious individuals with the blank canvas on which to produce solutions that are sustainable, scalable and also financially satisfying to those who participate in them.
Another attribute of the Social Entrepreneur is curiosity. Almost all the conveniences that we enjoy today are the result of someone asking, ‘WHY?’ and then providing an invention or a system that showed the rest of us ‘HOW’! As a system, the cooperative movement has demonstrated great effectiveness. Inventions that will harness solar energy, initiatives that provide livelihoods to women, that will keep children happily engaged in educational programs these are some of the many ways in which social entrepreneurs impact on the environment and the people who occupy it!
History is a great teacher. Social work has gained from a past that has evolved through many phases Lessons from the past remain as guideposts along the road that still has to be traversed.
The practice of alms-giving and charity that prevailed in the Middle Ages taught Social work practitioners a valuable lesson exemplified by the saying, ‘Give me a fish and I eat for today, teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime’. Evolving from the Charity dispensing mode, Social Work recognized the importance of making people self reliant. It has caused the emergence of educational and vocational institutions.
Needs that exist in human society have sometimes arisen out of certain events in the past. World Wars, territorial strife, natural calamities all have left scars on people on their psyches, on the communities in which they lived and on the earth and environment they inhabited. They have caused poverty, mental instability and disease. Migration of entire populations led to loss of property and alienation from their own cultures. Dealing with such dilemmas necessitated the link-up of Social Work with other disciplines. Psychology, sociology, economics, medicine, law and political science have teamed up with Social Work. In this way, professional Social Work has impacted on the lives of individuals, groups and communities.
The International definition of Social Work is stated thus: The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environment. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work. (This definition was jointly agreed upon by the International Association of Schools of Social Work at
on 27th June 2001) Copenhagen
This definition has the advantage of being universal and timeless. It helps to direct the future of social work. Science and technology have revolutionized many aspects of human life. Modern communication has shrunk the world to the size of a micro chip, business has benefited vastly, travel has been simplified and modern medicine presents new marvels regularly.
The negative aspects of such progress can be seen in the widening divide between rich and poor. In many parts of the world, the most basic facilities have not reached everybody. Safe drinking water, electricity, economical fuel options, medical services are not enjoyed by all and the earth’s resources are being consumed without being replaced. All this is likely to lead to a collapse of social systems as we know them! Social work needs to address the negative issues that progress has brought in it’s wake and deal with individuals, groups and communities that have been affected by the inequities that have arisen out of the system.
In answer to the question “Does Social Work have a future in the twenty first century?” The answer is “Yes”. As long as disparities remain between people; as long as ignorance, hunger and disease continue to stalk mankind, there is a role for social work to play! Responses must be designed in conformity with prevalent patterns of lifestyle, technology has to be more eco-friendly and the world must become free of fear.
This is a vast order for social work to fill but, work at the level of policy making, work at the grassroots and at all the spaces in between will ensure a better world for generations yet to come!
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Complicated surgeries frequently involve a team of doctors. Elsewhere, from debating societies to construction sites, co- operation, collaboration and the responsibility of each individual to the collective group is of vital importance.
The cliché ‘A chain is as strong as its weakest link’, is very relevant to the concept of team spirit so, whether one is the star bowler, batsman goalkeeper or back-up player; the surgeon who performs a complicated transplant or the nurse handing him instruments in a precise and timely manner, the role of each is interdependent and significant.
In the second decade of the 21st century, opportunities abound as never before so, while competition could challenge individuals to improve their own personal performances, collaboration, shared goals and the satisfaction of all participants contributing according to their own capacity this is what team work is all about.
To illustrate the benefits of team work over individualism, a story is told about Heaven and Hell:
A visitor, intending to make a choice for his future wanted to examine the merits of both, Heaven and Hell.
He was shown two identically appointed banqueting halls. The aroma of good food from both places enticed his nostrils. The music was just right, so was the décor. Even the cutlery was identical.
Why then, he wondered, was one room full of angry, discontented people while from the other emanated murmurs of satisfaction.
The answer lay in the way the extremely long-handled cutlery was being used.
In Hell people were unhappy because they were trying unsuccessfully to get the food into their own mouths. The long handled spoons were jabbing their neighbours in the face while soup spilt onto the table linen and nothing reached their mouths.
Heaven had the identical cutlery, so what made the difference?
In Heaven, people were able to enjoy the meal because they decided to reach out across the tables and FEED EACH OTHER!!!
The differences between Heaven and Hell are similar to the advantages of team work over individualism. In team work, emphasis is on the goal. Individual needs are set aside, the common good is supreme and each facilitates the other in achieving it. Everyone is a winner.
Colleges are recognizing the value of inculcating the team spirit in their students. Most colleges hold Events (Malhar at St. Xaviers, Mood Indigo at IIT B to name two). These events involve several specialized tasks and teams of students undertake them with creativity and expertise.
Social service is another area in which teams of college students contribute to society. Literacy programs, environmentally sensitive activities and work related to health and hygiene are some of the ways in which colleges engage teams of students.
Classroom assignments too are increasingly becoming tasks for teams. The opportunity to share knowledge, set it forth in a manner that is unique to the group; to learn from each other --- these gains from working in a team go well beyond the academic frontiers. They are lessons for life.
The process of undertaking assignments in a team involves
¨ Study of the topic through group discussion.
¨ Selecting the salient features for presentation.
¨ Delegating tasks.
¨ Executing the given tasks.
¨ Assembling all the component material.
¨ Reviewing the product.
¨ Following a strict time schedule.
It must be borne in mind that teams are made up of people. People with their own personalities, moods and skills. To recognize this to work with it to work around it, all of this is so much easier to do in the context of a team which provides a safety net to ensure that any individual’s fall is not fatal and can be compensated for by the group.
In summary a team needs to:
¨ Develop Leadership skills and People skills.
¨ Delegate duties.
¨ Follow up on tasks that were delegated.
¨ Regroup and review.
Once the team realizes the value of working as a focused harmonious unit, they may discover that they are simply teeming with ideas for more work!