Archive for September, 2010

Photo of the Week: Mirakle Couriers

Bhupesh, known around the Mirakle Courier office as the “king of Nariman Point,” knows every department in the State Bank building located there. He is responsible for sorting a large stack of Vodafone bills and delivering them to clients. He makes up to three trips in one day. Bhupesh, like every other courier at Mirakle, is hearing impaired.

This week is international deaf week, and so we are featuring one of our favorite social businesses in Mumbai: Mirakle Couriers. We have written about Dhruv Lakra and his for-profit courier service that hires only deaf workers, but as such a successful entrepreneur—Skoll Scholar, Echoing Green fellow—his business model is worth looking at again. » Continue reading “Photo of the Week: Mirakle Couriers”

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Cities: High-Traffic Area Tax

This is the final post in a series about intriguing ideas in climate-resilient urban planning that came out of the International Workshop on Sustainable and Climate Resilient Urban Development in New Delhi, India, September 8 and 9, 2010. The event, supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Rockefeller Foundation, brought together think tanks, municipal corporations and other stakeholders to envision climate resilient solutions to urban planning problems.

As New Delhi was gearing up for the Commonwealth Games which start next week, the city was attempting to revamp existing infrastructure and deal with issues such as slums, beggars and traffic.

In the second post in this series, we talked about how bad the traffic is in India’s capital. It’s worth repeating. In a recent IBM study of traffic worldwide, New Delhi ranked fifth in the commuter pain index, and 40% of drivers were willing to work longer hours if their commute were shorter.

One of the ways New Delhi is looking to control the traffic for the games—and a scheme that can be continued to cut down on carbon emissions in the future—is congestion charging. The concept is simple enough: drivers have to pay for the right to drive into the city’s traffic-heavy areas. » Continue reading “Cities: High-Traffic Area Tax”

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A Little Bit of Weekend Reading

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Book Review: Social Innovation, Inc.

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A new book on social innovation will give businesses ideas for selecting the right social innovation strategy.

Ever since the game-changing launch of CK Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, business leaders across the world have been searching for viable ways to enter untapped markets. Unfortunately, the “fortune” has been hard to come by, with many multi-national companies struggling to figure out how to make money from entering the “BOP” market. Jason Saul, author of the forthcoming book Social Innovation, Inc. (Jossey-Bass, Oct 2010), offers novel ways to think about responsible business, giving readers many largely unknown examples of innovative companies driving business growth through social change.

If you haven’t heard of Saul, you might want to tune in. He is the CEO and founder of Mission Measurement LLC. based in Chicago, and has consulted for America’s largest companies about how to measure impact for the last 4 years. He is a member of the faculty at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, is a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and has a law degree from the University of Virginia. This combination of policy, law and business makes him an ideal proponent of incorporating social change into business models. » Continue reading “Book Review: Social Innovation, Inc.”

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Directory: E-Magazine Issue 1

Socially Relevant Businesses Mentioned in this Issue:

Accura Bikes:


Cummins Inc:

Dr. Reddy’s:


HMX Sumaya:


Mission Measurement:

Tata Group:


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By the Numbers: Quality of Death

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Social entrepreneurs spend a lot of time figuring out how to improve the quality of life for the poor, disadvantaged, and outcast. But, most of us rarely think about one’s quality of death. Leave it to the Economist Intelligence Unit (commissioned by the radical philanthropy, Lien Foundation) to get us thinking about end of life care.

Not surprisingly, many developing countries, occupied with trying to feed, shelter and provide healthcare to their citizens, rated poorly when it comes to ensuring a comfortable death. Below, we have extracted some of the results included in the report that relate to developing and emerging markets. » Continue reading “By the Numbers: Quality of Death”

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Eye On: Demographics: India and China: Twin Stories of Progress?

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Three decades from now, China and India will have vastly divergent demographics. Demography underpins every segment of what is termed development – it drives the choices people make in their everyday lives, whether a country’s resources can sustain its growing population, whether a larger population will lead to greater conflict or a readjustment in rural-urban migration, or even whether an aging population will add to the number of dependents. Only in accounting for and understanding the specificities of the population can the complex web of political, economic, and social issues be addressed, and ultimately, projected.

So, what outcomes will these divergent demographics create?

Today, with 1.4 billion and 1.2 billion people respectively, China and India account for 37% of the world population. In thirty years, they are expected to account for roughly the same percentage of the world population. The picture is not this simple, though. Fundamental changes lurk behind these numbers. » Continue reading “Eye On: Demographics: India and China: Twin Stories of Progress?”

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Research Snapshot: Leadership Lessons from India

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While corporate social responsibility is being questioned in the U.S., a recent Harvard Business Review study, featured in the recently published book  The India Way, reports that Indian businesses are reinventing the role corporations play in the welfare of its country’s citizens.

A quartet of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business interviewed CEOs from 98 leading Indian companies. What they found is that being responsible and sustainable are core values for Indian companies. CSR is not seen as a side project, like it is for many companies in the developed world, but rather as an integral component to their operations. » Continue reading “Research Snapshot: Leadership Lessons from India”

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Interview: The Contrarian, Professor Aneel Karnani

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University of Michigan professor Aneel Karnani recently started a webisphere kerfuffle with his anti-CSR column in The Wall Street Journal on August 23, 2010. Beyond Profit talked to Karnani about his column, the reaction, and what the role of private industry in reducing poverty should be.

Beyond Profit (BP): What was the reaction to your column?

Aneel Karnani (AK): There’s been a lot of reaction, just looking at blogs and chat rooms and Twitter. Lots of email, too. Unfortunately, CSR has become a politically correct stance to take, so it is very difficult to argue against it because it seems morally right. We should set aside political correctness and have a real intellectual well-informed debate. We should not make this into an ideological debate about whether you’re a capitalist or a communist or a socialist.

» Continue reading “Interview: The Contrarian, Professor Aneel Karnani”

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In Profile: Five Ways to Green a Business

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Five Indian companies have found a way to integrate responsibility into their business model, either by making themselves greener, making greener products, or making other companies go green.

Efficiency at Work: Chillibreeze

While the primary activity of Chillibreeze, based out of Shillong, is copy writing and editing, they have seamlessly integrated green values into their daily operations. Because of the nature of the work, most of the company’s employees work from home, but those that do work from a physical office space do so in the company’s Shillong space that has no air conditioning and no hot water. For lunch, most of the staff eats off of banana leaves, which reduces non-organic waste as well as saves water that would be used for dishwashing.

What’s remarkable is that none of this sustainable, responsible activity has hampered performance. They were ranked the top content creation company in India in April 2010. » Continue reading “In Profile: Five Ways to Green a Business”

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