It was a great day yesterday at the Tang Center at MIT: The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE-Boston) hosted a great 250-person conference on Social Enterprise. The tagline was “Make it Happen!” and the crowd was great. Lots of inspiring stories, both on the stage and in the hallways.
Here’s my dear friend Anu Yadav, the conference chair, introducing things at the outset. She and here team of volunteers, including notable TiE regulars Raj Melville, Ranjani Saigal, and my partner at Rapid Sustainability Integration – Vithal Deshpande, really pulled together a great event. The MIT Sloan Businesss Club made the school very welcoming to the networking social enterprise crowd. Great coffee and treats from Equal Exchange and Rebecca’s Cafe and some other outfits.
The main presentations were complemented by smaller panels on specific topics. I enjoyed one on “Incubating your Social Enterprise” and one on “Urban Technologies for Social Benefit” where the audience could interact with accomplished panelists. Some of the panelists liked to talk more about their accomplishments than share their secrets, but I still gleaned some interesting ideas.
The best things for me were the presentations by two of the headliners: Harish Hande and also Andrew Yang. Una Ryan made a great presentation about Diagnostics for All but it was not quite my cup of tea. One thing in common between Harish and Andrew was they really believe you need to get to work, not go to school. The innovation and business models of real success and social enterprise are out there, nothing in school can really prepare you. Actually, schools can mess you up with preconceptions and biases that work against unleashing the power of creativity. I’ll note that no one innovates harder or faster than poor people in the extremities of the market – by necessity. Solving the rickshaw passenger algorithm isn’t exactly scalable, but it is hard, real science. One of the reasons I love to travel is to see the results of all this creativity in the world, creativity from meager resources, from real struggle. It always humbles me.
I’ve decided to put two more blog posts out here, rather than mash them in together.