Green Earth Alliance (GEA-South Asia) | Anil Jaggi | Interview
Green Earth Alliance (GEA-South Asia) is a social Enterprise endeavour of SFID (NGO working in North India), involved in promoting, supporting, incubating and mentoring social business models at micro and macro level. With recent introduction of New Company Act 2013, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has become mandatory in India and GEA is utilising this opportunity to develop strategic and sustainable CSR framework by supporting such social business models. Road shows, exposure visits are organised with special focus on women and youth from under developed regions and link them with professionals business schools and corporate world for handshaking for further scalability and sustainability.
Anil Jaggi, i-genius member, social entrepreneur and CEO of GEA-South Asia tells us more about his work in the below interview.
i-genius: Why is there a need for GEA-SA?
Anil Jaggi: With growing globalisation and profit centric market, it was essentially important to think beyond profit and create a platform to make business entities and professionals sensitive about other burning societal issues and seek their concern with triple bottom line business approach i.e. Social, Environmental and Profit.
With India becoming global business leader, hub of various commercial activities and its large young population becoming entrepreneur, there is a need to have such institution, which can bridge the gap between Social Sector philosophy and profit centric approach of Corporate world, hence the need of Green Earth Alliance (GEA South Asia).
i-genius: In what way is GEA-SA a social enterprise?
Anil: GEA-SA, is more like a advocacy and catalytic organisation supporting, mentoring and incubating new and existing socially relevant business models and help them to work towards social and financial inclusion of common man with special focus on rural and women oriented business models.
With new CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Bill 2013 (Indian Company Act13), companies falling under the ambit of new CSR law, have to work towards Strategic and Sustainable CSR models and with evolving Social sector, it is important to help Corporate and Social Sector to link with each other and support their agenda for the betterment of human development. GEA-SA is identifying such community Centric business endeavours and helping Corporate as well as Social Sector (NGOs/CSOs) to adopt Socially relevant and sustainable business approach for larger social dividends.
i-genius: What is an average working day like for you?
Anil: We normally work for 9-10 hrs daily on any normal day but our team is willing to work as and when demands arises.
i-genius: What difficulties have you experienced setting up GEA-SA?
Anil: As GEA-SA is offshoot of “Society For Inclusive Development (SFID), and have been working in social space for the last 15 years at local, regional and global level. With vast experience of our Advisory board and linkages, we are able to design & establish right working strategy (Win-Win basis) between Corporate and Social Sector and able to remove trust deficit in between. As Corporate India is also looking forward for their linkages with grassroots organisations for which GEA is facilitating them with right partners to work in JV (Joint Venture) and invest their funds in right directions.
Initially we faced challenges to transform the mind-sets from Single Bottom line to Triple Bottom Line Approach. But with growing success stories of social enterprises around us and reach and power of social media, young and new generation with “Out of Box” approach is very well accepting and undertaking challenges to venture into this space.
i-genius: What innovative working practices have you developed for GEA-SA?
Anil: We target young minds as they are easy to target with plenty of flexibility of adaptability. We are running various campaigns, organise road shows, Boot Camps and conferences in order to raise awareness and create conducive environment for young and energetic entrepreneurs to get involved, feel free to share their experiences and follow our incubation model (Each one Teach One). We target leading Business Schools, organise Social Innovation Competition and provide linkages with Strategic CSR framework of Corporate world. We are also developing network of VCs (Venture Capital) funds to support such “Out of Box” endeavours.
i-genius: What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop GEA-SA?
Anil: Though there are number of such initiatives of GEA but one of the model we adopted, was to take the selected and passionate young professionals to rural India (Isolated and Hilly Terrains) and arrange their interactions & meetings with local entrepreneurs, champions and change agents. Such interactive sessions with real life hero’s is always motivating and encouraging for young boys/girls and some time evolve new working strategy and synergy with them. With our prestigious team of advisors across the borders, their vast experience from Social, Academia, Media and Corporate world, we mentor and support selected young citizens on regular basis and also help them with right connections with FIs and VCs.
i-genius: How you have ensured that GEA-SA has become a sustainable business?
Anil: Being a Social Enterprise, its always a challenge to address Sustainability Issues and making reasonable profit is also an art to keep going with expansion plans. We have initiated and acquire some ongoing projects in Education and training Vertical. One such initiative is our “Budget and community Centric School Education Program”, where we have more than 400 students and the school is offering Inclusive Education model in the region catering to the need of Special Students with multiple disabilities. Now we are starting skill development program, which is going to be scalable in other region and we will have local partners to expand with their ownership.
i-genius: How do you best relax and detox from work?
Anil: Our staff is having regular holidays yet we take them out for various excursion trip and with our multi-location projects, we do take them out for change as well as for learning.
i-genius: Do you have any exciting projects you want to share?
Anil: Till date most of our projects were facing financial issues and right kind of investments, but we are finding new sector of CSR where if involved strategically, Corporate sector we can add value to the mission with their finance, technology, domain expertise and professional management. Which will offer sustainability as well as scalability to the project and making it viable.
With large sum of CSR funds induced in the market with only and only focus on Social development sector and meet MDGs, there is great scope for social enterprises to prove their worth and use these opportunities to scale up their business models with tailor made working strategy with Corporate’s.
i-genius: How do you measure the impact of your projects?
Anil: We select projects on the basis of very simple criteria as follows:
- Environmental Impact
- Employment Generation for local community
- No Harm to local Culture & Community
- Long term Sustainability
On the basis of these parameters, we select, mentor and support the projects and measure the ROI (Return on Investment) based on its tangible outcome.
i-genius: Where would you like GEA-SA to be in 5 years time?
Anil: We are always inspired by Prof. Mohammad Yunus of Grameen Bank and Dr. V Kurien111 of Amul Milk and follow their footsteps on long run. As South Asian region is comparatively poor with large family size and low literacy rate. We would like to take this mission to other South Asian Countries and promote the culture of self employment through various skill development program, which will not only strengthen local economy but will check the high migration rate from rural region to urban towns. We will remain focussed on Rural and women oriented enterprises and support them.
In next 5 years, we are planning to have our own Venture fund and support such mirco and macro level social enterprises.
i-genius: What advice would you give to those starting up a social business/project?
Anil: Except “Profit Making” in common there is lot of difference between Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship (SE). I love talking to young Business school students and advise them only one thing. That if you are in love with SE then only you venture into this and as Prof. Mh Yunus said, don’t only work for profit maximising, work for community, their well being and profit will follow.
One should have PDF approach to make any model successful. That is “Passion, Determination and Focussed”. And with PDF if you love the community you are involved and profit sharing is your mission, you will make a larger impact on the society with your mission.
This interview was conducted as part of the i-genius ‘Innovation & Sustainability’ interview series. If you would like to develop a particular aspect of your business or address something you are struggling with, then why not take our ‘Social Entrepreneur and Business mentoring’ sessions with i-genius Academy. To find out more, click here!