Summary report on International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development
The International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development was organised by TISS and DBS Foundation with the purview of discussing and assimilating ideas on facets of social entrepreneurship and their effects on sustainable development.
The conference explored academic perspectives on social entrepreneurship; outlined stories of pilot, seed stage and established ventures in the social sector and discussed corporate governance issues towards social development.
The conference was a great networking opportunity where we met social entrepreneurs from all spheres including agriculture, animal husbandry, healthcare and education. There were discussions on several dimensions of social entrepreneurship which included not just pitching and commercializing a product or service but also highlighted the challenges in reaching the bottom of the pyramid. The conference was an excellent opportunity to learn from the real life field experiences about what we must know to take a leap into social entrepreneurship.
As a SIIP fellow, of particular interest to us were a few topics as enlisted here:
- Community mobilization of sugarcane growers through participatory approach. This study was presented by Dr. Rajula Shanth from Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore. She discussed the conditions of sugar mills and sugarcane farmers in Coimbatore area and how both- technological and community based interventions were used to revive the dying the sugar factories. To deploy higher yields in the available farmlands for sugarcane, the institute did sequential trials with more than 20 plant varieties out of which two were selected for cultivation. The motivation for these experiments was to increase the yield by increasing height of sugarcane and sucrose content in the plant.The presentation led to a good learning on carrying out community based studies and on how to convince communities to accept and acknowledge technical interventions.
- Rural health initiative for Primary Centers and Eye Care Centers in East India. This study was presented by Dr. Sachin Ganorkar from Alchemist Hospitals, India. The presentation, as given by Dr, Ganorkar, discussed a hybrid model of PHC and eye care clinic established in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. Alchemist hospitals are currently providing free screening for primary health and opthalmological issues. Dr Ganorkar listed some major issues with the industry which were:
- i) Lack of infrastructure to provide medical support through telemedicine initiatives.
- ii) Issues in transporting samples to distance path labs and tertiary care units and getting reports on time.
iii) Poor licensing norms in most of the Indian states which reduce the quality of health care.
- iv) Expensive equipments for eye care facility.
At present Alchemist Hospitals have set up around 9 centres in East India at a cost of around 112 Lakhs INR/unit. Out of this around 50 lakhs per unit is the cost of equipment for eye care divisions.
During our personal interaction with Dr. Ganorkar he further explained that a major need for standardised and portable instruments are required in the field of refractory testing, CBC measurement, lipid profiling and thyroid testing. Other medical professionals present at the conference also agreed to the fact that portability of medical equipment is of major concern especially for needs of rural area.