Conventional Social work is often an act of charity accompanied by a sense of giving with no thought of taking anything from the beneficiaries.This is traditional and assumes that the beneficiaries have no money to pay up and nothing to offer and people who have goodies in life should give them to the needy.
The non profit sector hence has three distinct stakeholders the Funders,ngos and the beneficiaries.Such a setup has been a success owing to philanthropy and good people who often are wealthy and wish to share the wealth when they feel they, have had enough in life.
But then is this the right and the best way to carry out development?
Imagine now a Social entrepreneur (Social Entrepreneurs is someone who serves the social causes with a business model) comes up with same kind of work but asks the beneficiaries some money for his services.The rationale for asking this amount is that he/she feels that this is the only way to sustain operations.The services he provides is novel and depending on some funders could really not be the best way to fund the project.The other rationale is that social entrpeneurs believe that giving things free to people really makes people undervalue the services they pe=rovide and reduces seriousness in people.One other rationale is that asking some money from people does good to the economy too and the local market starts thriving using local resources.
Lets take an example of Providing IT education to people
Imagine there is a funding organisation which gives 10 lakh rupees to train 1000 people for IT.Its a great idea the ngo trains people and all seems well.This social organization has done a good job and used the funders money well but if you have a social entrepreneur who sells his IT services for a small price,people would definitely not come to him firstly because nobody would like to pay for some service which is available for free.In such an example the social organization has not only become a competitor for the social entrepreneur but a reason why social entrepreneurship cannot succeed.
In a world where evrybody is doing good the only way to measure impact would also be on sustainability.In the short term the social organization concept looks good but can never be sustainable,there would always be hassles of funding,but ithe long run the social entrepeneurs concept would hold more ground,he would charge what people can pay,people who have the power to ask for quality since it is a paid programme and not just accept what the NGO is delivering.
In an ultimate analysis social organisation and social entrepreurship cannot co exists in the same space.We must find areas and apply suitable models in suitable places.At occassions like taking care of HIV positive maybe the entrepreneurship concept is not the best one so we can have social organisations working from them but for other places like Education, when we are sure people can pay some money ,we should ask for some money.Clearly defined scope of work can make the entire world a better place.Social entrepreneurs face competition from free market,nobody wants to pay them because of the deep rooted mindset of social workers giving things for free.
Lets atleast spare them from the competition from social workers who have no sustainablity model in place.
One thought on “At Loggerheads Social Entrepreneurship and Social Work”
Its true that giving a fish to someone feeds him for a day but teaching him how to fish feeds him for a lifetime…Free social benefits must be given in case of areas like food n medicines, electricity, housing etc but the domain of education, new agriculture techniques etc. can be better handled by social entreprenuers..wrt charging a price, people better understand and show concern abt things for which they pay something…doling out freebies creates moral hazard and dependency which doesnt allow any growth in one’s skill set or knowledge..U r right Ashutosh in ur thoughts