SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP - WHY DOES IT MATTER?

The definition of social entrepreneurship continues to evolve over time but the one thing that remains constant is the core motive which is of having a positive social and environmental impact. Social businesses can be for profit or non-profit, can be big or small, community based or international, but it must answer a social need. In this edition of Business 360, we ask four social entrepreneurs about the importance of this business model for Nepal.


Santoshi Rana

Founder, Bihani Social Venture

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is about identifying a problem or an issue in society and creating a sustainable business model to solve it focusing on both income generation and impact creation.

What is the significance of this business model for Nepal?

We are in a very exciting phase in Nepal when it comes to social entrepreneurship because a majority of the people around us complain about the issues that surround us and there are very few who actually focus on providing solutions or initiating change. We have ample opportunities available to create solutions and bring about meaningful change which is already visible in some of the amazing ventures that have been started in recent years tackling some of the most relevant problems in Nepal.

How does it contribute to social and economic development?

As Bill Drayton, the Father of Social Entrepreneurship and Founder of Ashoka says, “The job of a social entrepreneur is to recognise when a part of society is stuck and to provide new ways to unstuck it.” Social enterprises address issues in society by creating innovative solutions, services and products along with creating livelihood, employment and market opportunities focusing on sustainable development.

What is the difference between CSR and social entrepreneurship?

The main difference is the intention – “why” was the enterprise or business started. CSR is integrated as part of a company’s model to contribute meaningfully towards the community and society to self-regulate positive impact and accountability. It is the idea that companies should pay importance to the community and consider the social and environmental implications. Social entrepreneurship on the other hand is started with the whole intention of solving an existing issue in society by creating a sustainable business model both in terms of income and impact.

Challenges to running a social enterprise

The biggest hiccups are changing mindsets, existing policies and availability of relevant human resources. Trying to resolve issues that have been existing takes a lot of time and patience, it is always easier to look at problems as someone else’s concern as compared to starting change with oneself. The current government policies and regulations related to the functioning and taxation of social enterprises can also create bottlenecks. Last but not the least, the education system and the culture we have limit our capacity to think since we are majorly spoon-fed our whole lives hence, finding human resources with the ability to think, initiate and lead is difficult.


Gajendra Malla

General Manager, The Village Café

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is all about finding opportunities, converting them into a business and taking risks while doing so. Social entrepreneurship differs from commercial entrepreneurship on a fundamental level. The purpose behind social entrepreneurship is to create social value for the public, they act as catalysts for social change and reshape corporate social responsibility. Precisely, social entrepreneurship also refers to altruistic entrepreneurship which creates opportunities to add social value systematically including culture, heritage, ethics and environmental issues. SABAH Nepal (SAARC Business Association of Homebased Workers Nepal) has a strong network of more than 44,000 women home-based workers who have taken membership in organisations all over Nepal. The women being trained and organised in a group are able to develop craft and food-based products. SABAH Nepal is a community-based social business organisation which works towards strengthening the livelihoods of financially deprived and marginalised homebased workers of the informal sector in Nepal, where it brings harmony between yourself and the world around you.

What is the significance of this business model for Nepal?

The need for and significance of social entrepreneurs is imbued with multiplicity of justification, just as business entrepreneurship changes the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, they create employment, create changemakers, to help society go through the change process. They not only tackle and solve problems but also raise awareness on different issues. They are those who bring a positive impact in social, economic and environmental sectors in the world.

How does it contribute to social and economic development?

The Village Café is an initiative of SABAH Nepal which not only serves delicious authentic Newari and Nepali food for you to savour but also helps hundreds of women earn their livelihoods through their involvement in the production, processing and cooking of food (farm to table). SABAH Nepal’s skill enhancement training on cooking and hygiene coupled with their inherited traditional skills have enabled these home-based women workers to cook like professionals. We source fresh, organic ingredients directly from the small farmers of our community members and I myself am the coordinator of Gastronomy Tourism Association of Nepal. We promote sustainable gastronomy which means cuisine that takes into account where the ingredients are from, how they are grown, how they get in our market and eventually to our plate. The Village Café initially enrolled only six cooking members back in 2011 and currently we have 60 direct associates in the café on rotation basis and some members are associated with Chef Association of Nepal as professional chefs. The cafe not only empowered them economically but also socially with regard to the fact that when they see their traditional cooking art and skills creating a market it motivates and encourages them to retain their culture and create a sustainable livelihood for themselves and for us. Hence, when you choose The Village Café, you are choosing our national culture, tradition, heritage, empowering and encouraging artisans, promoting healthy living and eating. And farming and many more mutually beneficial purposes.

What is the difference between CSR and social entrepreneurship?

During the last two decades Nepal faced some key policy challenges due to disasters, the pandemic and political crises. The current macroeconomic situation is bleak with a surge in the inflation rate, continued trade deficit increase in imports despite import reduction, strategic increase in government spending as well as depleting foreign exchange reserves in addition to lack of good governance.

CSR was designed with a broad scope in terms of the financial information to be reported, the account holders subject to reporting and the financial institutions required to report in order to limit the opportunities for taxpayers to circumvent the report, where economic development is a critical component that drives economic growth in an economy, like creating new job opportunities and facilitating an improved quality of life that includes increased access to opportunities created by economic growth for existing and future residents, making Nepal self-reliant by prioritising agriculture, industrial development, hydroelectricity and transmission line expansion and boosting foreign investment and tourism development.

Challenges to running a social enterprise

The major problems of social entrepreneurship development in Nepal are social problems, lack of literacy and social awareness, poverty, environmental (micro/macro) and specially lack of funding support. Cooperatives do provide microfinance loans which helps increase access to cheap capital and encourages people in a community to become entrepreneurs. However, we often hear about fraud cases where cooperatives have vanished overnight and this causes lack of public trust. Lack of good governance is also a major problem in Nepal.


Chiran Poudel

Founder & CEO, Seeing Hands Nepal

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is all about recognising social problems and achieving social change by employing entrepreneurial principles, processes and operations. It is about conducting research to completely define a particular social problem and then organising, creating and managing a social venture to attain the desired change. The change may or may not include a thorough elimination of a social problem. It may be a lifetime process focusing on the improvement of the existing circumstances.

What is the significance of this business model for Nepal?

A person with visual impairment is considered as a means of charity and passive recipient. Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges faced by visually impaired people in Nepal. Hence, the significance of an initiative like this is very high in finding the light in the darkness.

How does it contribute to social and economic development?

This social venture is contributing to changing the social attitude towards visual impairment from sympathy to empathy. The venture is also greatly contributing to tourism which is one of the major sources of national income.

What is the difference between CSR and social entrepreneurship?

CSR can come and be implemented once a business is established and profit is gained, whereas social entrepreneurship comes by heart for a good cause and can be initiated from zero.

Challenges to running a social enterprise

The concept of Nepali people towards massage service and the social attitude towards visual impairment and disability at large.


Bimala Shrestha Pokharel

Founder & Director, Higher Ground Nepal

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

Recognising and solving social problems through sustainable and ethical business models.

What is the significance of this business model for Nepal?

There has not been much teaching, knowledge sharing of models and of good practice in the field of social entrepreneurship in the context of Nepal. We need to focus on research and development to measure the impact of social enterprises, study various models of emerging social enterprises to come up with successful models of sustainable and ethical social enterprises.

How does it contribute to social and economic development?

It has been helping to resolve various issues in society and at the same time creating jobs and adding economic value through their social activities, service, training, product development to reduce unemployment and poverty.

What is the difference between CSR and social entrepreneurship?

CSR is the strategy of business to contribute to society through various programmes as means of improving reputation and profitability.

Social Entrepreneurship is more than focusing on profits, business success, social enterprises focus on social impact by solving societal problems/needs through conscious, ethical and sustainable business models.

Challenges to running a social enterprise

We don’t have any support from the government or any other agency. There is no mentoring, coaching and support system for social enterprises or social entrepreneurs. We are passionate about resolving the burning issues in society but at the same time we also need to meet all the expenses of our business, emerging challenges of running day-to-day activities. There is lack of support system, accountability and guidance. Many visionary and creative social entrepreneurs get discouraged easily and tend to lose their zeal for social entrepreneurship.

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Business 360 is a magazine that delivers on quality business news content, profiles of entrepreneurs and leaders, features on issues that matter, articles that assess and analyze policy and delivery mechanisms in the world of trade and commerce

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