Social Start-ups in India

In recent times, a new form of startups known as the social startups has started mushrooming in India. Although very few in number, their impact is being felt in both the economy and the welfare of society.

What are Social Start ups?

Social startups are those enterprises which work through commercial strategies and then use this for the well being of the society. They can be for profit or not for profit organizations and can be either a cooperative society, mutual organization, disregarded entity, social business or a charity organization.

Difference between Corporate Social Responsibility of Companies and Working of these Startups

Although the line of activities of both seems to be of the same nature, there is a slight difference in the motive of operation.  The difference in motive is as follows:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility- The Companies Act, 2013 mandates the companies to contribute some amount towards the welfare of the society. Further, undertaking social activities helps to increase the goodwill of the company, making its business prosper more. But this is only an anciliary activity undertaken by the companies, whose main aim is to maximize profits for its internal benefit.
  • Social Startups-The social startups are formed with the motive to serve the society primarily. Even if they earn profits, it is solely for the purpose of widening the range of activities of social welfare. At times, they pay dividends to their investors in order to ensure a continuous flow of money for their activities.

Some Successful Social Startups in India

There are a number of social startups running in India. But some of the remarkable ones are:

Teach for India

This is an initiative taken by the outstanding college graduates and professionals to make education accessible to as many children as possible.  It was started in 2009 and it has now reached 7 cities with 910 teachers and is planning to expand to the eighth city with 2000 teachers. They invite people to volunteer in the venture either for a short period of time or for a long time. They follow the technique of crowd sourcing.

Corporate 360

This is a software company which trains the unemployed youth of Kerala to become data analysts. Then these youth are given an opportunity to join the company. They began with 5 employees in 2013 and have now employ 25 people. They have succeeded in creating their own IT Park where they can provide experience and exposure to the people working in the industry.

Superheroes Incorporated

This organization provides training in vocational career skills to youth. They assist the formally trained youth to get good job placements and career guidance.

Impact Guru

This is an online fundraising platform which raises funds to be donated to the non-profit organizations and reduces their burden of fundraising by almost 10 per cent.

Role played by the Social Startups

Social Start-ups can play important role in society and economy as follows:

Balance between profitability and social impact

The problem of India is that while corporate houses have profitability their contribution to charitable activities is minimal and while NGOs are devoted to this, they lack the funds to fulfil this. The social startups can fulfil this gap by both earning profit and making social welfare an organizational goal.

Contribution towards upliftment of the population

Many of the social startups aim at uplifting the poor strata of the society. This is done, as we saw above, through education, providing health facilities and creating job opportunities. They play a very significant role by identifying single problems in the society and focusing on solving it only.

Promoting traditional economy

Some social startups like Fabindia help in marketing the products of the rural artisans. This helps them earn a greater amount by reaching the global audience.


Since most of these are started by the educated youth they come up with new ideas and ways of implementing them. These are more lucrative and useful than the general government initiatives.

Challenges of Social Startups

The key challenges to Social Start-ups are as follows:

Insufficient funds

Although the startups have profit motive also at times they still face shortage of funds. This is mainly because they have not been able to mobilize sufficient people to support their cause. While big NGOs have a lot of funds small NGOs still struggle to make their ends meet. The number of big NGOs is very less and they cannot reach every nuke and corner of the country like the small NGOs.

Lack of skilled man force

Since these startups do not have sufficient funds to hire highly skilled individuals, they are required to deal with normal volunteers. The volunteers without training cannot contribute very heavily to the success of the organization. Thus, most of the social enterprises cannot deliver their goals successfully.

Lack of incentives

These social startups don’t receive much incentives from the government to carry out their goals as of now. With the Digital India campaign kickstarting it is expected that the easy access through social media can help the social startups better to reach out to a greater population. But this can be evaluated once the Initiatives are fully implemented.


In a highly populated and developing country like India the role of social startups cannot be ignored. They provide greater assistance to the government in concentrating on welfare problems. So, the government of India should encourage the educated class to come up with such social startups by organizing programmes and conferences and providing some incentives like funds for the work done by them.