“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” -M. K. Gandhi
The job of an entrepreneur is not an easy one. It has its own requirements, ranging from risk taking to decision making. He is basically a one-man army having to gamble with all the odds alone and deploy his forces to the task at hand. Now amplify this already huge responsibility by attaching a social cause to it, and voila – in comes the social entrepreneur! The job of a social entrepreneur is much harder than a regular entrepreneur because they have to keep in mind the interests of the society. Instead of hankering after their own interests and profits, social entrepreneurs work for the greater good so that they can bring significant changes in the lives of people around the globe. And only an adept leader having all the virtues of good leadership can effectively realize this goal.
When we recall the name of Mahatma Gandhi, immediately the word ‘Bapu’ comes to our minds. We have always known him as the supreme leader of the Indian Independence movement. But little do we know that Gandhi is also one of the finest examples of an entrepreneur in India. He hailed from one of the most business-oriented communities in India, that is, the Gujarati ‘Baniya’ community’. Gandhi embodied all the qualities of a good leader – the ability to take risks, empathy, positivity, honesty, tolerance, integrity and the ability to inspire others. All of these virtues are imperative to social entrepreneurship. He wisely said, “My life is my message”. And this holds true of everything he stood for the – liberation of Indians and upliftment of the downtrodden. His approach towards the freedom movement had a social end to it anchored on the principles of non-violence, honesty, and justice. Though his motives may have been different, he exuded the entrepreneurial zeal in all that he did. He was indeed one of the simplest men to have ever lived, who cherished the idea that a deed no matter how small, had the ability to have a great impact on the world someday. The virtues displayed by the ‘Father of the Nation’ is definitely a great source of inspiration for Social entrepreneurs everywhere.
Gandhi was the only freedom leader who chose a different path to attain freedom. He chose the path of non-violence, unlike other leaders who were aggressive in their approach. He started the non-violent movement on his own. He was not among those who wait for others to act. Rather he took initiatives on his own and the rest just followed. His initiatives were risky and one of a kind. They did not bear immediate results, but they did go a long way to help in achieving India’s freedom. A social entrepreneur must be willing to take risks and persevere until his strategies bear results. He should be a pioneer of unconventional thinking and new methodologies to find solutions to the troubles of mankind.
Practice what you preach
Gandhi was a staunch believer of ‘practice what you preach’. As a social entrepreneur, one has to set an example for his peers to follow. He has to stick to his principles and beliefs and work accordingly. It is very important to feel the drive within oneself before expecting others to follow one’s lead. He believed in simplicity and to do one’s own tasks by oneself. From cleaning the toilet to cutting his own hair, he believed in self-sufficiency and encouraged his followers to do the same. Likewise a social entrepreneur has to follow the ideals that he wishes others to adopt. He has to be true to his mission and his team members.
Marketing skills harboring on Indigeneity
Gandhi stood for everything Indian and that is what drove him in the struggle for India’s freedom. He was an obsessed with sustainability and always spoke of growing local cottage industry, such as Khadi, promoting self-reliance, boycotting foreign goods and ways. He encouraged the use of local resources, the growth of villages, promoting local industry and community-driven initiatives. If a social entrepreneur is someone who ‘creatively disrupts’ the existing system to give birth to a better order, Gandhi certainly fits in this list. A social entrepreneur must work to support the local ecosystem and promote the local talent so that they can grow.
In the pursuit of his dream of a free India, Gandhi had to confront various challenges and hardships. Needless to say that he had to make sacrifices when the situation demanded it. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”, he said. This is exactly what is required of a social entrepreneur. He needs to look at the bigger picture and aim for the betterment of the majority. He needs to make material sacrifices not only at the personal level but also for the sake of his business in the interest of the greater good.
Gandhi was the epitome of positivity and a man who firmly believed in his principles. This was primarily the reason for his success. Britishers continued to exploit India for decades after he initiated the non-violent movement. But he held his ground with conviction and perseverance until India attained her freedom. A social entrepreneur needs to persevere and have immense faith in his ideas for his confidence will goad his fellow members to act and do better.
Gandhi had always been someone who was deeply attached to his cause. He dedicated himself and his entire life in the attainment of India’s freedom. He was a man with a mission and once he had set his eyes on his goal, he never backed out of it. All his life, he strove for the betterment of his fellowmen. A big part of a social entrepreneur’s job requires dedication towards a social cause. He has to work actively to realize his vision into reality. He has to dedicate himself for the upliftment of his fellowmen and change their lives for the better.
These are the key traits demonstrated by Gandhi that’ll help social entrepreneurs to find motivation and be inspired to come out with flying colors. Not for nothing did Nelson Mandela, South African revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, glorify Gandhi by calling him the ‘source of inspiration’.