Taking the social enterprise route to business is something you should consider simply because in future every business that has the social aspect will have that much needed edge. If you want to tread the path of social enterprise and are wondering exactly what to market then here are some ideas that have and will always find takers…
1. Natural Products
Linking urban customers who are looking for quality, natural products with people who make them is one option for social entrepreneurs. For instance Neev handmade Soaps, established by Anurag Jain and Shikha Jain started off experimenting with ways of making eco friendly soaps and paper.
Today, they market Neev Herbal Handmade Soaps made from vegetable oils (coconut, olive and palm oils) and purest essential oils without using any chemicals or artificial colors. Currently there is only one rural woman and her husband working as full time employees of Neev Herbal Handmade Soaps. The organization facilitates two women SHGs in the vicinity of the soap workshop by providing them with temporary employment.
2. Cause Related Marketing
Standing for something is another great option. Like Karm Marg Jugaad an NGO which focuses on disadvantaged children, young adults and economically backward rural women from villages near the campus. These groups receive vocational training before joining the production process and the products made by them are sold under the brand Jugaad. A large chunk of Jugaad products utilize as much recycled and reused raw material as possible.
3. Alternative Lifestyle Choices
Helping people make alternative lifestyle choices is another arena that has a number of opportunities just waiting to be explored. eCoexist links Areca Nut farmers with organizations that have the set up which is necessary to manufacture Areca Nut Plates, an alternative to plastic/paper plates, cups and bowls.
Similarly, Green the Gap Collective is another initiative that promotes the use of recycled products and the revival of art. Their products crafted on contemporary lines have an edge in branding and the undertone of reuse and reinvention.
4. Turn Festivities Around
The most successful social enterprises garner attention and support through people participation. Mobilizing people to champion a cause can very often be the starting point of a social enterprise. What better occasion than festivals to make your mark?
Turn festivities around like eCoexist, which has given a “green” touch to traditional Indian festivals like the Ganesha Festival and Holi, both community celebrations marked by pomp and splendor. The manner in which people celebrated these festivals resulted in a lot of damage to the environment. eCoexist realized this and partnered with students, volunteers, NGO’s, SHG’s, prisoners and civic authorities to generate awareness about the need for festivities and also showcased their green Holi colors and Ganesha idols.
5. Revive an Art
Art is and has always been big business but the sad part is that most traditional arts are in danger of dying out simply because artisans either lack the finances and/the marketing prowess that big retailers have. Working to revive art forms will not only make a difference to the lives of artisans but also help you carve your niche with a unique product.
The revival of the Maheshwari weave with designer sarees marketed under the Rehwaa brand and Culture Aangan, a rural home stay venture which is promoting art forms like Chitragathi, Zaiti or Kal Sutli, Shadow Puppetry with leather puppets and Pangul Bael, in which people, animals, puppets, music and story telling come together to regale audiences.
6. Green Businesses
Green living solutions like solar Powered mobile phones and ATM’s are not only cost cutting solutions but also better options for all concerned. If you have a green idea then apply it like Sunita Mohan, a gardening consultant who helps people plan gardens on balconies, terraces and even window spaces under “The Urban Gardener” brand.
If you have a bagful of ideas then teaching others to reduce their carbon footprint at home at work is something that is a lucrative business option too. Conducting seminars and workshops to promote green living is a great way to make money while making a difference.
7. Dip In To Rural Pockets
Turn to the rural landscape and you are bound to find a number of lucrative arenas for social enterprise. The Agri Toursim Development Corporation (ATDC) is a rural tourism business that enables farmers to earn revenues from farm tourism.
Another case in point is Culture Aangan, a rural homestay venture that is committed to creating tourism infrastructure in Sindhudurg, while giving precedence to economic benefits and independence for the local people, in a scheme of things designed in such a way that they can retain their land and earn a livelihood through their homes and services offered in the native villages.
Photo credit: blogs.worldbank.org