Teach Series: Social Enterprise

While working at one of India’s largest advertising agencies, I realized two things. One was the importance of branding and being able to communicate your story. The other, that I was a misfit in this industry.

Thank you to everyone who came along and participated in our second Teach Series seminar this Wednesday. Our student speaker was the Association’s new Communication’s Officer, Aakansha, discussing the amalgamation of marketing with international development.

It was excellent to have so many present but for those unlucky enough to miss it, Aakansha has summarised her presentation and captured highlights from the discussion that came from it.

Also included are some relevant links for further exploration of the topic.

Being born and raised in a city like Mumbai, where you have the richest man of the country and Asia’s largest slum share the same land, you are often left baffled and helpless. Waking up to news about which corporation donated more money towards a social impact project to escalating numbers of children forced to drop out of school at a young age, there was pressing need to ‘re-define the act of charity’.

“Brands are recognizing that they need to have purpose beyond making money”

“Take Walmart, for example: they built their multi-billion-dollar business on being the cheapest retailer in their sector. Yet several years ago they changed their tagline from ‘Always low prices’ to ‘Save Money. Live Better.’ What does that tell us? It tells us that globally the mood is changing and low prices are no longer enough. Consumers increasingly want to know about the impact of their money, on themselves and others,” says Elaine Cohen, Founder of Beyond Business.

I would like to cite two examples that gave me the opportunity to merge my interest in communications and intent to make a positive impact in society.


Advertising Agency: DDB Mudra Group
Client: Clean & Clear by Johnson & Johnson
Need: To engage with their target audience in a sustained manner and use their insights to build the brand’s upcoming advertising campaigns.
Resulting idea: Select college students to don the role of ‘campus brand ambassadors’ and work collaboratively to enable students to vote in the General Elections 2013 in India by making ‘politics clean and clear’.
Project: Operation Black Dot

“Clean & Clear as a leading youth brand wants to enable them and give them the confidence to choose the next leadership of the country by making voting easy through Operation Black Dot”, says Ganesh Bangalore, General Marketing Manager, Johnson & Johnson.

Read more here.


Social Enterprise: Social Quotient
Project: The Green Batti Project, a mentoring program that paired young professionals with children from under resourced communities in India to enable an exchange of life skills and soft skills. Impact areas: Problem solving, lateral thinking, goal setting and financial literacy.
Need: To monetise the intent and work as a for-profit
Resulting idea: “Enable consumer brands to leverage social causes as a marketing and brand engagement platform and use business and technology driven approaches to problem solving”, says Samyak Chakrabarty (Co-Founder, Social Quotient).

In this case, we got a banking partner on board to fund the project as there was a brand fit with financial literacy being one of the project’s core impact areas. There was an incremental benefit for the brand. Apart from the positive PR, they received sustained audience attention, leading to high brand recall.

We were able to attract valuable talent, build a robust software to track the mentor-mentee pairing and design a model that could be replicated in other cities of India.

Read more here.

Although my association with Social Quotient as a founding director came to an end when I decided to move to Melbourne, the ideology of “It takes more than just good hearted people to change the world” still lingers in my heart. #ChooseCheesy


Looking Forward for India

The development sector in India has largely been traditional and struggles to come up with transformative solutions to age old issues. Matters related to efficiency and enterprises are left to the market and private sector and for many NGOs, markets remain to be a bugbear.

It will be exciting to learn and observe if social entrepreneurship succeeds in creating a mindset shift that blends markets with mission. With the IT boom, there was an interest in reaching the ‘bottom’. IT platforms gave rise to forecast applications for farmers and a variety of information services in remote rural areas. We shall see what the future holds.

“Poor don’t need poor solutions; but different and smaller solutions”


Further Explorations

The Association live streamed my seminar on the newly launched MIDPA Facebook page while I attempted to give my talk between fire alarms, that is now available for all to view here.
For the curious souls and keen learners of this topic, I have shared a few links that caught my attention that you could refer to as well.

Sanitation issue? Time to get creative

Simplifying Social Impact: Engagement Is the Route to Business Benefits

Can marketing change the world?

Social Traders, Australia


Final Remarks
Thank you again for your excellent participation! Please do share below if you know of any other apps, websites, articles or brands that can help everyone be inspired redefine charity.

Vice President (2017)