The Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 in India is Arbind Singla

18 Nov 2008

New Delhi, November 18, 2008: Arbind Singh, Executive Director, Nidan, was today announced as the winner of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2008 in India. Montek S. Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, India, conferred the award on Arbind Singh at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit. In India, the Social Entrepreneur Year of the Award is an initiative of The Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation and The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in collaboration with the UNDP.

This award will also provide Arbind with the opportunity to take part in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos from 28 January to 1 February and gain access to the Schwab Foundation’s global network.Singh will have unprecedented opportunities to engage with global decision-makers from the public, corporate, media and academic sectors to strengthen and expand his model. The Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation will honour him as the Khemka Fellow and present him with a financial award of 800,000 Indian Rupees.

Nidan is developing sustainable businesses, cooperatives, trade unions and "people's institutions " led by the most excluded categories of the poor in Bihar. It has promoted and built 20 independent profit-making ventures governed and owned by the urban poor including waste workers, ragpickers, vegetable vendors, construction labourers, domestic helpers, micro-farmers, street traders and other marginalized occupation groups. As legitimate competitors in the mainstream economy, the collectives negotiate with the government for their rights and entitlements.

Accepting the award, Arbind Singh, Executive Director, Nidan said, "It is an honour to win the prestigious Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2008. This award is an acclamation of our work in Bihar and it will provide us with a great deal of support by increasing our credibility in the eyes of the government and private donors. Most importantly, this award may influence the entrepreneurs who have abandoned Bihar to retrace their steps and set up their businesses in the state once again."

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, India, offering his congratulations to Arbind Singh said: "While the Government talks about inclusive growth, Arbind’s model has shown the way. It is also a testimony to the fact that the poor can pay for financial products. " Montek Singh promised to visit Nidan, Arbind Singh’s organisation based in Patna.

Hilde Schwab, Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, said: "We organize the Social Entrepreneur of the Year award in 20 countries around the world to recognize entrepreneurs that are altering the social and environmental fabric of society. India stands at the forefront of the field with social innovators that have global models particularly relevant in today’s turbulent times. "

Uday Khemka, Managing Trustee, The Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation, stated: "Social Entrepreneurs have innovative solutions to the myriad social challenges today. We believe social entrepreneurs in India have very effectively applied entrepreneurial approaches and involved people at the grassroots in addressing these social challenges. Through this award we aim to catalyse social change by identifying, investing in and supporting these social entrepreneurs and the sustainable organizations they have built. "

Congratulating the winner and finalists, Maxine Olson, UNDP Resident Representative said: "A social purpose added to entrepreneurship translates into an environment which creates leadership, making it possible to find solutions to challenges that confront people in their daily lives. In the UNDP too our focus is on creating conditions for such visionaries. " A distinguished jury including representatives of the partners and Atul Singh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Coca Cola India; Bindu Ananth, President, IFMR Trust; Harish Hande, Chief Executive Officer, SELCO; Raju Narisetti, Editor Mint and Leadership Team Member, Hindustan Times; and Subroto Bagchi, Co-founder and Gardener, MindTree Ltd. The finalists were identified through a competitive open process that identifies social entrepreneurs whose work has created large-scale, transformational benefit for marginalized populations or for society at large.

Other finalists included Prema Gopalan from Swayam Shikshan Prayog who co-creates businesses with rural communities and corporations, and Brij Kothari from PlanetRead and IIM Ahmedabad who uses "same language subtitling " on popular television shows to build literacy across the nation.