The Union Budget proposal to set up a social stock exchange may do good to the country’s social entrepreneurship and social innovation landscape as public listings usually promote reliability, accountability and transparency, says Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murty.
In a conversation with The Hindu, she said that though the country has been witnessing a mushrooming of NGOs and social enterprises, especially after the government made a 2% corporate social responsibility spend mandatory in 2014, there are no proper statistics available on who is doing what, the size of fund allocations, and actual deliveries on the ground.
When asked if Infosys Foundation has looked at a listing on the proposed social stock exchange, she said, “I do not know now. It is something that our board has to look at. We are an ethical and transparent organisation and we believe in complete transparency and disclosure.”
The proposed exchange will be regulated by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) and will allow listing of social enterprises and voluntary organisations. A listing will also give NGOs and social ventures access to capital.
Mooting the idea of a “performance rating mechanism” for social ventures in the country, Ms. Murty said, “It is important that the government assesses all social innovation ventures and NGOs and rates them as per their performance and delivery. Currently, all kinds of players coexist.”
Reliability being the crux of NGOs and social enterprises, internal and external impact assessments are a must, she said.
On the sate of social innovation in the country, she said, “This space offers a lot of opportunities for innovation. But the means are missing. The more we endeavour to provide opportunities or platforms to people to showcase their innovation, the more we strengthen the innovation ecosystem in India.”
According to her, political will is crucial for the effectiveness of philanthropy. This was evident in the recent Melukote lake clean-up project. Things happened so quickly as permissions from local authorities came quickly, she said.
Infosys Foundation recently took up the conservation and restoration of the Panchakalyani, the largest ancient lake in Melukote, in Mandya district.
Infosys Foundation has launched the second edition of its Aarohan Social Innovation awards, which will accept submissions across six categories — healthcare, rural development, destitute care, women’s safety and empowerment, education and sports, and sustainability.