A Chaupal of budding Social Entrepreneurs
Updated: Nov 9, 2019
“Entrepreneurship” is the buzz word these days. The discussions on entrepreneurship often tend to be around identifying the next billion-dollar enterprise, and this has led to a plethora of competitions in many management schools which are all about identifying the next Oyo or Byju. However, on the other hand there are very few conversations that could help identify the next Amul (a collective enterprise), the next Ruma Devi (grassroot entrepreneur) or the next Grassroutes (social enterprise). This is a gap that Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) strives to address through various activities.
Irma Social Entrepreneurship Cell (iSEC), was started by the batch of 2012-14 to foster a spirit of social entrepreneurship in the batch, iSEC manages to do this with the constant support of IRMA's incubator ISEED through activities such as ‘demystifying entrepreneurship’, vartalaaps with entrepreneurs and inter and intra-college competitions.
iSEC came up with a social B-plan competition known as Idea Chaupal to cater to potential budding social entrepreneurs in IRMA in 2014. It gave IRMA students a platform to come up with their entrepreneurial ideas to solve various social issues.
"What sets Idea Chaupal apart is its unique ability to give a direction to the students to think about various social enterprises that can be started by looking at the problems in the village. Idea Chaupal brings in a perspective of the social aspect of a business, it helps students to look beyond profits and see how entrepreneurship can be applied for the benefit of the community",
To take a leap further, Idea Chaupal 2018 was made an inter-college event. The first inter-college version of Idea Chaupal saw about 350 teams registering. Out of all the ideas coming our way, the final 10 ideas were shortlisted to make a presentation at IRMA. Many interesting ideas came up that year from sustainable tribal tourism in Jharkhand to marketing of black rice in the northeastern states of the country. Multiple finalists of Idea Chaupal 2018 have gone on to receive seed funding from various government institutions.
Following the success of Idea Chaupal 2018, a separate competition – Pratyaya was held for encouraging ideas from the Village Field Segment (VFS). VFS provides students with a unique opportunity to dive into the grassroots, where participants are exposed to the village economy and learn to empathize with the community by staying with them. This led to Pratyaya, an intra-college competition for IRMA students that seeks to bring out the best ideas from their fieldwork. This was organized by iSEC with support from ISEED.
The outreach of Idea Chaupal has been increasing. This year, we received more than 370 applicants from across the country. Themes of the B-plans largely revolved around education, health, agriculture, and eco-tourism. The top ten teams that made it to the finals had interventions ranging from warehousing ideas for the onion farmers to a producer collective manufacturing Hemp-based products in Uttarakhand. The ideas focused on intervening at various levels of the tribal, women and farmer communities. Students have showcased proposals of social enterprises such as Rural Business Incubation Center (RBIC) that focused on bringing the tribal women community of Attapady in Kerala on board for entrepreneurial ventures. Business proposals such as creating meal replacing Nutri bars made from Mahua to creating household items made from paper sludge for corporate gifting. Quest Alliance, a Not-for-Profit Organisation that equips young people with 21st century skills by enabling self-learning, was the title sponsor for Idea Chaupal, and Ashutosh Tosaria, the youth program head of Quest Alliance, graced the vent as judge for the competition.
In addition to the competition this year, ISEC organised a couple of workshops. The workshop on design thinking was facilitated by Rahul Nainwal, founder of iVolunteer, India Fellow Social Leadership Program, Social Enterprise Incubator- UnLtd Delhi. The students received hands-on experience and practiced prototyping in the design thinking workshop. The workshop concluded with the students presenting the prototypes for the solutions they have deduced in the form of role-playing, pictorial charts, Lego and clay models. The session on data analytics and AI, taken by Sunandan Madan, co-founder of Dhwani RIS, exposed the students to the latest scope and opportunities with respect to technology in the social sector.
Having successfully completed Idea Chaupal 2019, iSEC along with the support of ISEED hopes to continue its activities to foster social entrepreneurship in the upcoming batches.
This blog is written by Tanya Sinha and Karan Paruthi, members of IRMA Social Entrepreneurship Cell (iSEC) and PGDRM students at IRMA. Both of them share a keen interest in the field of social development and have worked towards understanding this landscape during their time at iSEC. Views are personal.
iSEC strives to inculcate the spirit of social entrepreneurship among students of IRMA. It facilitates interaction between budding young social entrepreneurs with the industry through various activities and competitions.