Social Entrepreneurs

Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, India - 2018

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the sister organisation of the World Economic Forum and the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation of Jubilant Bhartia Group announced Prema Gopalan of Swayam Shikshan Prayog as the winner of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year India 2018 Award. The Award was presented by Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog, Government of India in the presence of over 150 participants in New Delhi.

The SEOY India Award 2018 winner Prema Gopalan, is revitalizing rural economies by putting women in charge. Working in areas affected by global climate change, it has unleashed women farmers, entrepreneurs and grassroots business leaders who are solving the problems of their communities through small businesses. Prema Gopalan and her team have built vibrant eco-systems to enable 145,000 women to succeed in remote and ailing markets. The SSP model comprises four ventures: a federated network of 5000 SHGs; a resilience fund for women-led businesses; a rural school of entrepreneurship and leadership for women; and a market aggregator that provides warehousing, branding, marketing and distribution services to last-mile business women. In addition, it has catalysed the government, investors, financial institutions and Indian and global corporations to partner directly with grassroots women business leaders.

The SEOY India Award promotes social entrepreneurs in India by recognising organisations that work to promote inclusive growth and contribute to bringing change in the society through their entrepreneurial vision. The winner of SEOY India Award participates in the annual and regional meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF). These meetings offer unprecedented opportunities to engage with global decision-makers from the public, corporate, media, academic, and civil society sectors. The winner will be invited to join the World Economic Forum Network - Group of Social Entrepreneur.

Applauding the work of the two finalists of this year SEOY India award, Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog, Government of India said, “India is at the forefront of social entrepreneurship and the Social Entrepreneur of India Award, in my view, is the platform where real transformation is taking place. Social Entrepreneurs are the people who are doing well by doing good and are creating long-term value with their work. Social Entrepreneurs are devoted to serving the underserved and I feel privileged to be here at the award ceremony.”

This year, the SEOY India Award received over 100 applications of exceptional quality which were evaluated on key parameters of innovation, sustainability, scalability, reach and direct social impact. An independent panel of the distinguished jury selected the winner. This year’s jury members included Ms Hilde Schwab, Co-founder & Chairperson, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship; Ms. Shobhana Bhartia, Chairperson & Editorial Director, HT Media Ltd; Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Government of India; Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise; Ms. Urvashi Sahni, Study Hall Educational Foundation, Winner SEOY 2017; Mr. Srivatsan Rajan, Chairman, Bain & Company, India; Ms. Chetna Sinha, Founder, Manndeshi Group of Ventures, Winner SEOY 2013 and Mr. Paul Basil, Founder & CEO, Villgro Innovation Foundation.

About The Winner

Pune, Maharashtra

The SEOY India Award 2018 winner, Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), is revitalizing rural economies by putting women in charge. Working in areas affected by global climate change, it has unleashed women farmers, entrepreneurs and grassroots business leaders who are solving the problems of their communities through small businesses.

Over two decades, this has had a domino effect in 2000 climate-threatened villages across 6 states of India. 97,874 women in drought and flood-affected villages have set up enterprises in clean energy, sanitation, basic health services, nutrition and safe agriculture. They have transitioned from self-employment to diversify their ventures, aggregate into value chains and mentor thousands of others to get on the path of entrepreneurship. 46,750 women have claimed their identities as farmers. A majority have land deeds in their name. 900 women are recognized locally as climate resilience leaders and 500 are playing a role in local governance. Family incomes have increased by 45%- 55%. 30,000 acres of arid land has been converted for organic farming and cultivation of food crops.

SSP’s grassroots women entrepreneurs are taking their communities forward as part of their business success. As SSP partners with the government to scale its model, it is demonstrating that investing in rural women entrepreneurs can be a solid strategy for transforming India.


Bengaluru, Karnataka

Rang De is building bridges between India's credit-starved communities and 'citizen social investors'. As the architect of India’s first peer-to-peer lending platform, Rang De has blended elements of micro-lending with crowd funding to transform 14,000 ordinary citizens into social investors and philanthropists.

These ‘ordinary’ funders and change makers have contributed more than 70 crore rupees for ultra-poor families in the form of affordable and customized loans (at 2-10% interest).

More than 65,000 families have had their health, education and enterprise needs met through the Rang De model. They have recorded a 70% increase in incomes and a 108% increase in savings. Working much before crowdfunding became a buzz word in India, Ram and Smita have opened up untapped channels of capital for India's poorest.

Buoyed by the passionate engagement of their social investors and change makers, and to reach the vast majority of India’s poor, Ram and Smita are taking the next logical step of scaling their model by setting up a Non-Banking Financial Company.

About the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) India Award

The Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award celebrates mature-stage social entrepreneurs and their organizations that implement innovative, sustainable and large-scale solutions to address poverty, indignity and the lack of basic services and resources in ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ and ultra-poor communities. They work in areas as diverse as health, education, job creation, water, clean energy and building identity and entitlements and access to information and technology. Whether they set up social businesses, hybrid social ventures or not-for-profit organizations, the primary focus of social entrepreneurs is large-scale, transformational impact.

The Jubilant Bhartia Foundation collaborates with the Schwab Foundation to provide unparalleled platforms at the national level for leading social innovators that highlight social entrepreneurship as a key element for inclusive growth. The finalists chosen are amongst those developing solutions in key growth areas. The Jubilant Bhartia Foundation aims to collaborate meaningfully with them by supporting them with linkages and networks to increase their impact and scale.

About Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is a sister organization of the World Economic Forum. The Foundation provides unique regional and global platforms to promote social entrepreneurship as a key element to advancing societies and addressing social problems innovatively and effectively. It also fosters a close-knit community of social entrepreneurs for idea exchange and replication of best practices.

Award Benefits

World Economic Forum Events

This is a unique opportunity to connect with business executives, key government leaders, civil society members and media representatives of the region. The Winner(s) will be announced at an Award Celebration in New Delhi. The registration fee, flight and lodging for all Finalists will be covered.

The Schwab Foundation Network

The Winner(s) will be included in the Schwab Foundation network. Benefits include access to a peer community of social entrepreneurs, services such as pro-bono consulting and legal advice, as well as scholarships to executive education courses at world-class institutions such as Harvard Business School and INSEAD. In addition, the registration-fee for network social entrepreneurs invited to all regional and global World Economic Forum meetings is waived.

Winners of Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award

  • Ms. Prema Gopalan of Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Pune: SEOY- 2018
  • Ms. Urvashi Sahni of Study Hall Educational Foundation, Lucknow : SEOY - 2017
  • Mr. Neichute Doulo of Entrepreneur Associates, Kohima : SEOY- 2016
  • Ms. Poonam Bir Kasturi of Daily Dump, Bangaluru : SEOY- 2015
  • Dr. H Sudarshan of Karuna Trust, Bangaluru: SEOY- 2014
  • Ms. Chetna Vijay Sinha of Manndeshi Group of Ventures, Satara: SEOY-2013
  • Mr. Anshu Gupta of Goonj, Delhi: SEOY-2012
  • Ms. Neelam Chhiber of Industree, Bangaluru: SEOY-2011
  • Mr. Rajiv Khandelwal & Mr. Krishnavtar Sharma of Aajeevika Bureau, Udaipur: SEOY-2010


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