January 12, 2017

Tata Social Enterprise Challenge organises 'Thinking Social' seminar in Ranchi

"In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence."

Jamsetji Tata, Founder of the Tata group

Ranchi: IIM Calcutta Innovation Park in association with the Tata group and the Entrepreneurs Association of India (EAI), Jharkhand Open Coffee Club (JoCC) – a group of Jharkhand-based entrepreneurs hosted the ‘Thinking Social Seminar’ at the Institute of Management Studies, Ranchi University, on January 6, 2017. The primary objective of this event was to build awareness on social entrepreneurship, generate interest and inspire the young generation to come up with innovative solutions to social challenges. The speakers of the seminar comprised of eminent and social entrepreneurs, investors and academicians, who have already established their own outstanding ventures and have impacted the lives of thousands of people.

Subhrangshu Sanyal, CEO, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, at the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge seminar on 'Thinking Social' at the Institute of Management Studies, Ranchi

The day-long seminar sought to introduce entrepreneurs from Jharkhand to the spirit of social entrepreneurship in a rapidly evolving global economy and addressed the concerns of young, budding entrepreneurs in Jharkhand. The speakers for the day comprised eminent social entrepreneurs, from Bihar and Jharkhand who have been working extensively in the Indian social entrepreneurship space.

The Seminar was formally inaugurated by Dr RK Pandey, vice chancellor, Ranchi University. In his opening address, Dr Pandey emphasised on the need of social entrepreneurs for development of society not only in Jharkhand, but all across the world. This was followed by an inaugural address by Shailesh Verma, chief resident executive, Tata Steel Ranchi, who explained the objectives of the seminar and the how Tata group has played an active role to foster entrepreneurship in the country.

Subhrangshu Sanyal, CEO, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, spoke about the need for social entrepreneurship in our country and why the youth should be involved in it. He also mentioned about the essential qualities which a social entrepreneur should possess in order to succeed.

Vikram Duggal, who represented US-based Founder Institute and Unitus Seed Fund in Kolkata, spoke about Unitus Seed Fund which is India's leading venture fund investing in startups innovating for the masses. Mr. Duggal explained how Unitus Seed Fund, helps  startups "prepare for growth" via seed funding, strategic and operating support, providing critical connections, and securing growth capital. The investment focus areas of Unitus are healthcare, education, and financial technology.

Malavika Sharma, founder, Avikaonline, and also an ex-alumnus of XLRI, Jamshedpur, explained how the Butterfly Project would help create a network of women entrepreneurs. Ms Sharma said, “The project is aimed at inspiring women with offbeat business ideas because we mostly see them venturing in the beauty parlour and handicraft businesses.” Recently, a workshop with a focus on how to start a business and how to raise funds – which are issues that plague every budding entrepreneur – has been held in association with the US Consulate for the entrepreneurs from Jharkhand. The Butterfly Project has already tied up with 25 men and women who have passed out from renowned business schools and have been successful as entrepreneurs.

Roshan Sharma, co- founder of Drinksbecho, shared his journey as an entrepreneur and how his venture drinksbecho.com has now become an e-commerce portal for beverages industry, being run and powered by a company called VrTechsys Solutions Pvt. Ltd. with experience of industry in the field of new product development from idea and concept to making it in the real world in product industries.

The post lunch session started with 12 pitches from various entrepreneurs to a panel of judges whose ideas and prototypes were shortlisted by Bihar Entrepreneurs Association (BEA). To inculcate the young minds BEA had organised the Pitch4Jharkahnd, a startup competition for which the entries were invited from Jharkhand for the best business ideas. There were many challenging business proposals from the participants to address the problems in various sectors like: agriculture, water and sanitation, clean energy, e-commerce solutions, healthcare services, and other social problems plaguing the society.

Abhishek Kumar, secretary general, Bihar Entrepreneurs Association (BEA), spoke of the role of BEA to promote social entrepreneurship across the country. BEA was founded by young entrepreneurs from the state in 2011, to provide a platform for new enterprise, startups and potential entrepreneurs from within the state to establish a successful business and with the holistic aim to make Bihar into “Enterprising Bihar” by creating an industry and entrepreneur friendly eco-system in the state and build a pool of entrepreneurs for the future. BEA offers an excellent platform for future entrepreneurs, where one prospective entrepreneur can get a single window service from advisory services to fund raising support.

The session ended with a vote of thanks from the director of management studies, Ranchi University, to all the speakers and the participants. He accentuated that the objective of the seminar was to create and promote entrepreneurship at the grassroots level starting from village and district level, and inculcate innovation and social change drivers in young minds. The Government of Jharkhand is taking firm and fundamental strides towards building a robust and friendly ecosystem which promotes innovation and nurtures entrepreneurship skills and the government is committed to provide opportunities to every strata of society by empowering an equitable ecosystem for development of entrepreneurship and innovation.