Top 38 Social Entrepreneurs in India Who Are Changing the Face of Urban India

According to recent research, India has over 15 million entrepreneurs in India who focus on creating social and environmental change, especially in Urban India. Some of the social entrepreneurs in India are Anshu Gupta (Goonj Organization), Chetna Sinha (Mann Deshi Bank), Neelam Chhiber (Rural Spark), and Vandana Goyal (Aajeevika Bureau).

This article will discuss everything about top Social entrepreneurs & social enterprise in india and how they are changing the face of Urban India.

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What Is Social Entrepreneurship?

People who make the decision to start their own businesses are motivated to do so for various reasons. Some want to be their own boss and build an empire, while some might want to do so to make a lot of money and have the freedom to pursue their true passion. However, recently there has been a surge in a new type of entrepreneur, the social entrepreneur.

Their work is to implement a low-cost business solution for socio-causes while dealing with the shortage of funds, manpower, resources and many more. The hurdles in the way are endless but the idea to transform lives for the collective good is the driving force that helps such social startups in india to navigate the turbulent waters of social entrepreneurship.

So it can be understood that a social entrepreneur is an individual who finds and navigates various business opportunities that can have a positive impact on society or the planet as a whole. But it is important to not confuse it with a non-profit organization because it is a for-profit venture that puts a great emphasis on bringing about changes in society or the world.

Social Entrepreneurship in India

India’s gig economy is scaling newer heights thanks to the surge of innovative start-ups and young entrepreneurs who are changing the rules of how businesses functioned. These young achievers do not only dream to achieve big in life, but they also nurture their passion to resolve the social inequities gripping our country. India too is in much need of this new breed of Sociopreneurs to come out with unconventional business models to address environmental and social issues.

Being an entrepreneur in itself is challenging, and addressing a social cause through it is undoubtedly going to make the journey more difficult. As a social entrepreneur in India, you are on a mission to generate business for a social cause.

If you are wondering who these new-age heroes are, here is the list of the most renowned social entrepreneurs & social entrepreneurship companies in India to watch out for!

Top 38 Social Entrepreneurs in India

The top 38 Indian social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship companies are listed below:

1. Nikhil Singh

Nikhil Singh is one of the top social entrepreneurs in India. Nikhil is the founder and general secretary of Sai Seva Sansthan Trust. Sai Seva Sansthan Trust was founded in 2020. The trust’s main aim is to make rural people’s lives easier by providing them with necessities like agriculture, water sanitation, and nutrition. Not only this, but even more than 100 people work for this trust by educating the rural people and reaching their households. 

Before Sai Seva Sansthan Trust, Nikhil Singh had also founded another microfinance organisation named Arnika. Nikhil Singh was awarded the title of Most Influential Leader in Microfinance Under 30 and many other accolades as well.

nikhil singh

2. Shaheen Mistri

Shaheen Mistri is an Indian social activist and entrepreneur, as well as an educator. She founded the Akanksha Foundation, a non-profit organisation, in the year 1989. She established this foundation in order to provide a high-quality education to children that belong to communities and families of low income. Wanting to do more for society and inspired by the Teach For America model; in 2008, Shaheen established Teach For India, a non-profit organization. Since it has been established, through Teach For India, Shaheen has placed over 700 students in schools across India. 

Shaheen Mistri

3. Olivia Deka

Olivia Deka is a gender equality advocate, social entrepreneur, and startup evangelist. She is the founder and CEO of She For Change, which is a community-powered and led feminist organisation that advocates for gender equality. Olivia Deka founded this non-profit organisation in 2019, and it aims to help Indian women and girls gain access to health services and education. 

Her work has helped create awareness about the gender-biased violence that is rampant in India and has tried to bring about change by mobilizing and spreading information regarding this issue. 

Olivia Deka

4. Agishwar Jayaprakash

Agnishwar Jayaprakash is a dynamic Youth Leader from Chennai, India, who is committed to bringing about positive change. He is the founder of Ignite-India. It was founded by him in 2014 and focuses on helping the underprivileged citizens of India get an education. He founded this organization in the hopes of helping the people of India accomplish their dreams. Ignite-India provides educational opportunities and scholarships to students at over 7000 colleges and schools across India. 

Over the past 7 years, his work and assistance through numerous initiatives have impacted the rural and semi-urban communities of India for the better.  

Agnishwar Jayaprakash

5. Ria Sharma

Ria Sharma, hailing from Dahanu, Maharashtra, is a well-known social entrepreneur in India. In 2014, she returned to India from the UK to make a documentary on the acid attack survivors. It was in the same year that she founded the organization “Make Love Not Scars” (MLNS) to support the victims of acid attacks. The statistics show that the survivors are mostly women, and the crowd-funded organization does its best to help them both mentally and physically. The organization helps the victims by getting them jobs so they can support themselves and their families. 

Ria Sharma was the first to establish India’s rehabilitation centre for survivors of acid attacks and held various campaigns to end the sale of acid, which gained a lot of recognition. 

Ria Sharma

6. Saalumarada Thimmakka

Saalumarada Thimmakka is an Indian social entrepreneur as well as an environmentalist, from the state of Karnataka. She is often referred to as Aala Marada Thimmakka and is known for planting and tending to 385 banyan trees and further planting 8000 other trees. Her thinking and services changed the environment for the better and contributed to our society. 

Saalumarada’s efforts to make the environment a better place and her love for trees earned her the title “Vriksha Maate”, which means Mother of Trees. She has achieved various awards for her service, including the Padma Shri Award. 

Saalumarada Thimmakka

7. Sharad Vivek Sagar

Sharad Sagar is one of the most famous social entrepreneurs in India and the founder and CEO of Dexterity Global, which he founded in 2008. It is a national organization that aims to empower the next generation of leaders with educational opportunities and proper training. Sharad is a social entrepreneur who has created opportunities for the marginalized youth and unprivileged citizens of India through his social enterprise. Sharad was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2016.

He was not only invited by Obama to the White House, but has also achieved various awards, such as Person of the Year 2017, Queen’s Young Leaders List, Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service, and more. 

Sharad Vivek Sagar

8. Urvashi Sahni

Talking about the best social entrepreneurs in India, Urvashi Sahni is definitely one of the most successful social entrepreneurs in India and tops the list. She is the founder and CEO of SHEF (Study Hall Education Foundation), an organization dedicated to offering education to the most disadvantaged girls in India. Urvashi Sahni has worked with over 900 schools and changed the lives of 150,000 girls (directly) and 270,000 girls (indirectly) with her programme. She was rightly felicitated with the ‘Social Entrepreneur Of The Year‘ award in 2017 for her selfless acts of dedication and passion.

social entrepreneurs in india urvashi sahni

9. Harish Hande

Harish Hande is another pioneering social entrepreneur of India and a remarkable committed one. He is the CEO & Founder of Selco, a company rendering sustainable energy source to rural regions of the country. This project was the first rural solar financing program in India. Till date, Selco has contributed over 120,000 installations and has more than 25 operating retail and service centres in Karnataka alone.

social entrepreneurs in India harish hande

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10. Jeroo Billmoria

Jeroo Billmoria is one of the renowned social entrepreneurs of India who is supervising several International NGOs for the betterment of society. She initiated the ‘Childline’ that aims to provide help in form of healthcare and police assistance, especially to street children. Right from her childhood, she had a vision of giving back to the underprivileged in the society. She also believed in self-empowerment of women in India.  Jeroo Billmoria was felicitated with the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and is a Schwab and Ashoka Fellow as well.

Jeroo Billmoria
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11. Anshu Gupta

Born in a middle-class family in Uttar Pradesh, took media as a profession and while as an intern he witnessed the need of proper clothing for the poor in rural India. Anshu then founded Goonj, a social enterprise that collects used clothing from the urban crowd, sort them, fix and later distribute among the poor and needy. The relief work was done by Goonj during the times of natural calamities in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been highly acknowledged.

social entrepreneurs in india anshu gupta

12. Santosh Parulekar

Santosh Parulekar worked to create job opportunities for the unemployed youth in rural India. He started ‘Pipal Tree’, a company that aims to impart formal training to the youth and provides them with reputable jobs in companies across the country. Operating since 2007, Pipal Tree has trained over 1,500 workers and intends to open training centres pan India in the coming years.

social entrepreneurs in india Santosh Parulekar

13. Sumita Ghose

Sushmita Ghosh is the founder of Ashoka Changemakers, an open-ended platform for social innovation that was one-of-its-kind in the world. Sushmita aims to revive the craftsmanship and talent that is unharnessed in rural India and aims to provide them with their deserving recognition. She started with ‘Rangasutra’, a retail chain from FabIndia and it turned out to be a huge success.

social entrepreneurs in india sumita ghose

14. Ajaita Shah

Ajaita Shah works with a mission to empower rural India. She started at the gross level and aims to provide the best of technological solutions to the remote villages in India at the cheapest price possible. Ajaita Shah is the Founder & CEO of Frontier Markets that supplies solar energy powered products to rural India at an extremely affordable cost. The company has sold over 10,000 solar solutions until now and there is no stopping them until they light the remotest corners of the country.

social entrepreneurs in india Ajaita Shah

15. Trilochan Shastry

Trilochan Shastry proved that nothing is impossible to achieve in this world if you have the zeal and fervour to pursue it. A renowned professor in IIM Bangalore, he was pained to the state of political affairs in the country. What started as a PIL against the politicians led to the foundation of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an organization that scrutinizes election procedure in India. Besides this Trilochan Shastry also heads NGOs for the upliftment of the farmers.

social entrepreneurs in India Trilochan Shastry

These top 8 social entrepreneurs in India are the ‘Knights in the Shining Armour’ who have pledged to bring about sustainable change in the society. They indeed are an inspiration to the society and this blog is an acknowledgement of the selfless work they have done!

16. Neelam Chhiber (Rural Spark)

Neelam Chhiber purused Industrial Design from NID, Ahmedabad. For the past three decades, Neelam is working with Artists in Rural areas by providing design, technical, marketing and management solutions.

Neelam has contributed to many solutions such as self-owned enterprises, mainstream value chains for economic security. Now Neelam is working on the Endeavour Mission which is expected to get completed by 2030. The main focus of this mission is to economically, and socially strengthen the resources produced by millions of workers.

Neelam Chhiber (Rural Spark)

17. Vandana Goyal (Aajeevika Bureau)

Vandana Goyal is a former CEO of Akanksha Foundation which is a non-profit organization that works primarily for purpose of education. Currently, Vandana is a board member of the Akanksha Foundation.

Currently, Vandana is working as a fellow’s co-CEO and managing trustee to ensure low-income students to have access to STEM Colleges in India. Vandana also worked with the world economic forum as a Young Global leader. She has a large network of Public-private partnerships schools in Urban areas of India.

Vandana Goyal

Other Social Entrepreneurs in India

A few other social entrepreneurs in India are listed below:

  1. Chetna Sinha (Mann Deshi Bank)
  2. Priyanka Agarwal (Wishberry)
  3. Varun Sheth (Krishi Cress)
  4. Swati Raj (Purple Jugaad)
  5. Akshay Anant (Dream a Dream)
  6. Pushpa Bector (Sammaan Foundation)
  7. Sanjay Sethi (Chintan)
  8. Dinabandhu Sahoo
  9. Akansha Hazari
  10. Nand Kishore Chaudhary
  11. Karthik Naralasetty
  12. Sunil Bharti Mittal
  13. Jeroo Billmoria
  14. Abraham George
  15. Hanumappa Sudarshan
  16. Aarushi Batra
  17. Nivesh Raj
  18. Rajan Mistry
  19. Adhik Kadam
  20. Dhruv Lakra
  21. Ela Bhatt
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FAQs on Social Entrepreneurs in India

The FAQs on Social Entrepreneurs in India are given below:

What does social entrepreneurship mean? 
The process by which individuals, businesses, and entrepreneurs create and finance solutions that directly address social challenges is known as social entrepreneurship. Therefore, a social entrepreneur is someone who looks into business prospects that benefit their community, society, or the entire planet. 

Who is on the top list of social entrepreneurs in India? 
Some of the top social entrepreneur’s examples in India are: 
1. Urvashi Sahni (Founder and CEO of SHEF) 
2. Harish Hande (Founder and CEO of Selco)
3. Jeroo Billmoria (initiated Childline) 
4. Anshu Gupta (Founded Goonj)
5. Santosh Parulekar (Founded Pipal Tree) 

What are the examples of social entrepreneurship in India? 
One of the social entrepreneurship examples in India is Sumita Ghose, the founder of Ashoka Changemakers. She strives to revive the craftsmanship and talent that is repressed in rural India and aims to bring them recognition. 

Do social entrepreneurs make money? 
Yes, social enterprises in India make money, but initially, most social entrepreneurs start with their mission as their first priority. They strive to carry out their vision and eventually with the success of their mission and goals, they achieve financial success similar to traditional entrepreneurs. 

What company is a social enterprise? 
Social enterprises in India are companies that put the interests of people and the planet over financial gain. These companies invest their income in bringing about constructive social change because they have social and environmental missions. 

Who is the most successful social entrepreneur in India?
The most successful social innovators in India are Aditya, Agnisumukh,, and Under the Mango Tree.

What are the different types of social entrepreneurs? 
The different types of social entrepreneurs would be:
1. The Community Social Entrepreneur
2. The Global Social Entrepreneur
3. The Non-Profit Social Entrepreneur
4. The Transformational Social Entrepreneur

What are some of the qualities that you need to be a successful social entrepreneur? 
Some of the few qualities that would make you a successful entrepreneur are deep empathy, curiosity, creativity, commitment, a systematic approach, being sustainable and innovative and more. 

Who was the first social entrepreneur?
American social entrepreneur Bill Drayton is known as the father of social entrepreneurship, as he was the one who coined the term “social entrepreneur” when he founded Ashoka, a non-profit organization back in 1980. 

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