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Is India Really a Hotbed for Social Enterprise?

Is India better at producing social entrepreneurs than other countries? The recent track record supports the claim. Here are a few reason why.


If you know anything at all about social enterprise, you are probably familiar with the fact that many of the case studies cited as successful are Indian in origin. Case in point: Aravind Eyecare, Jaipur Rugs, Barefoot College, d.Light. It makes you wonder: Is India better at producing social entrepreneurs than other countries? Is there something in the water? And if India really has cornered the social enterprise market, how did they do it?

First, let’s look at what we know. India is massive. It’s bursting at the seams with people, and because one out of every six people on the planet is an Indian, we are statistically more likely to stumble upon Indians anywhere—and some of those people are bound to be social entrepreneurs, right? Of course, a big pile of people does not explain why social enterprises often thrive in India, and the policy environment certainly doesn’t help: There are no freebies for social enterprise, no special legal structures (like the L3C here in the United States or the CiC in the U.K.), and few policies that help enterprises get funding. In fact, some might say that Indian social enterprises have succeeded in spite of policy, not because of it.

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