I have lot admiration for entrepreneurs solving very serious problems in remote parts of the country uplifting living conditions of many by providing services/products from them or consuming products/services from them. But something that bothering me recently after my recent rural area visits and interactions with social entrepreneurs about their priorities.
Many work in water sector use reverse osmosis (RO) technique for filtering water. With RO around 2/3 of water goes waste. In my recent visit at an remote village, there is an RO plant near a community pond. The water from the panchayath lines are fed into RO plant and filtered water is sold to people but the 2/3 of the waster water with more concentrated contaminants going into the pond, where the local livestock are drinking water from. For many the live-stocks are their livelihood, with them getting unhealthy directly affects their income. Also if there are milking cows, I’m sure the milk is going to have some residues of that.
Today major multinationals in water sector in western worlds are being watched for their practices of taking water from one location and shipping it to other locations which is affecting the local water table. Today’s small social enterprises are conscious of this fact?
Another entrepreneur mentioned about the issue around marginalized communities that came in the way when they were planning to set up a water treatment plant. One group of local people were opposing and economic boycott if they put the plant in the other side. The entrepreneur just walked away from that village. His answer is I’m solving only water problem, if I focus on other issues I may not be able to survive.
Every village that I visit greets me with garbage. They dump garbage in their outskirts of the village which is often the entrance. So what’s is outer is entrance for us entering there. If I look deeper into those, there are empty saches of water pockets, pieces of solar lanterns, etc. I’m sure all of these are getting into their water streams that is making it worse. Today big corporates are getting into “cradle-to-grave” project taking ownership of the wastes coming out of their products, as social enterprise shouldn’t they build that into it now itself? I’ve highlighted only few sectors that doesn’t mean that all other sector’s social enterprises are very socially responsible. This is to bring out this and making into their conscious.
In a developing country like India, we have an opportunity to do it right learning from the mistakes of developed countries, can we do it?