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Women Social Entrepreneurs

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A series, introducing one woman every week for you to be inspired and empowered.

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Inspiration and the inclination to breathe life into it will come naturally to any socially sensitive human being. Money, power, affordability, and all other parameters fade into the background when goodwill and grit are the forerunners.

As I was ruminating over the next blog topic, I was inquisitive to probe into the entrepreneurial terrain to see the lesser mortals who are not hailed and hoisted like the select few. On further research, there were so many categories that popped up, like the younger entrepreneurs, the richest, the top 10 women entrepreneurs, and many more.

I narrowed down to women who are socially responsible and contributing in their own little ways to impact lives and be remembered for posterity.

It is interesting to understand how social entrepreneurship is a niche that may sometimes get confused with nongovernmental organizations. Unlike an NGO, a social entrepreneur is one who sets up and builds a profit-making business that is environmentally sustainable and socially uplifting.

It is heart-warming to see so many women work in this direction, using their intelligence, skill, business acumen, and financial viability for a win-win model of business.

  1. Lakshmi Menon

The first on that list is Lakshmi Menon. She is a designer turned social entrepreneur from Kerala, helping empower human dignity through her Pure living initiatives. Her first initiative was Ammoomma thiri or Wicksdom. Seeing her grandmother find meaning in making wicks out of cotton rolls and using them in the lamps at her home, and those of her extended family, Lakshmi realized, this could be an empowering meaningful pursuit for elderly women in old age homes. In no time, this ingenuity found resounding success and the wicks were supplied to temples, churches, and other stores. The women not only engaged in a meaningful pursuit but also earned three rupees for every wick sold.

Her other enterprising initiatives include:

Chekutty Dolls: The Iconic Project which was born out of the floods that ruined thousands of weavers’ looms and materials. When they were contemplating burning them all, she came up with the idea of this cloth doll, which eventually became the symbol of the resilient Malayali during a crisis.


Rolapena is an initiative that makes disposable pens from paper that grow into trees when disposed of- A Pen That Gives a Tree.

CoVeed for Covid, a humane thought, where she persuaded people locked up in their homes, to make tiny houses to gift along with food packets to police personnel, and health and frontline workers.

Similarly, when Covid medical centres were set up to address the growing number of infected patients, there was an acute shortage of mattresses. Lakshmi rose to the occasion with her best out-of-waste idea. PPE kit-making centres had enough scrap that turned into mattresses-the concept of Shayya (mattress in Sanskrit).

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As a tribute to the fishermen folk and their risky lives, who were the saviours during the 2018 Kerala floods, she came up with the idea of ‘The Friendship campaign which is a crowdsourced insurance campaign where those interested to help can pay a premium of Rs 24 for a policy cover of Rs 1 lakh.

She recalls, “The seed was sown in my childhood by my father who used to constantly remind me that I was born into a privileged family and that comes with a huge responsibility to give back to the community.”

‘Transform a Uniform’ (of a security guard) was a challenge initiated in December 2019, at the Kochi Design Week, but stalled with the Covid scenario. Now she has revived the project, as a competition, calling all designers to come up with comfortable attire for the security guards. They seem stifled and suffocated in the ones worn by them. She retorts, that it is time to get past the colonial hangover and create a uniform that is easy on them and looks impressive.

One need not be a billionaire or qualified with multiple degrees to diversify into the realm of social entrepreneurship. Along with education, and employment, a keen eye for possibilities to touch another life, whether lesser fortunate or a value add to a space that will make life easier for coexisting is all that is needed.

The seed of this mindset ought to be sown right from infancy, and further nurtured in schools and colleges through outreach programmes and social service activities. New Horizon College , in its management programmes, has incorporated this corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship as an integral part of the course curriculum. This is taught in classes and implemented through practical exposure and service sessions.

At the end of the day,

‘Only the actions of the just

Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.’ Death the Leveller by James Shirley

Tag: #employement, #entrepreneur, #entrepreneurship, #newhorizoncollege, #nhck, #nhcm, #nhei, #smallbusiness, #startupideas, #studentsmotivation, #women, #womenempowerment, #womensday