Social Business: An approach to solve a social problem with a non-charitable approach

Project Summary:

Raagi is one of the major crop grown by tribal community in the HD Kote area. In fact it was the only food crop grown and consumed by the tribal community. The nutritional values of raagi is scientifically proved and could be partially a solution for the sickle cell anaemia which tribal community inherently suffer. But, today due to the variety of reasons, could be due to free food grains (predominantly rice) provided under public distribution system, raagi labelled as ‘poor man’s grain’, ‘black food’ which is made to link to the status and also, as it is not so fancy food grain unlike other grains, consumption of raagi is substantially reduced amongst this community.

The project aims to solve nutritional deficiency that the children are facing by producing ragi based food products and nutritional supplements. The project would also endeavour to provide sustainable livelihood opportunity for the women involved in the production.

Project Name: Establishing a social business unit for producing nutrition supplement by the Self Help Group members in HD Kote of Mysore District
Project Sanction Date 30th March 2016
Project Period 30th March 2016 to

30th September 2017

(18 Months)

Project Location B. Matakere village in H D Kote Taluk
Financial Support (Partial)


NABARD FINANCIAL SERVICES LIMITED (Subsidiary of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development)
Implementation Partner Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement
Prakruti Girijana Mahila Okkuta
Project Mentor Dr. R. Balasubramaniam

Chairman, GRAAM

Project Director and Strategic Expert Basavaraju R, Executive Director – GRAAM

There is a thin difference between not-for profit development organization and social business establishment. “In a typical NGO approach, the attempt for solving a social problem will be a philanthropic in nature wherein the primary stakeholder (in other words beneficiary) will get the service or benefit without having to pay for what they have receive. NGO approach is a donor dependent and will be in existence as long as donor continues to provide the grant for the purpose. Whereas a social business approach towards solving a problem is partially with the business approach. It is partially a business because it borrows the principles of business to make the endeavor dependent on consumers or target stakeholders and partially not because profit making is not a sole objective. Also it is not a ‘profit’ model but it is purely a ‘revenue’ model. That means social business should generate enough revenue to operate, sustain and expand without taking away any dividend ”(Basavaraju R, GRAAM).

With this background and subscribing to the thoughts mentioned above GRAAM is contemplating to establish a Social Business Innovation and Facilitation Unit with a clear objective of finding innovative, cost effective and sustainable solutions for the prevalent social problems encouraging upcoming social entrepreneurs by providing them required conceptual, social, economic and logistical facilitation to develop and nurture their social business concepts.

This project is a step towards establishing a social business working with rural women group in the HD Kote taluk. GRAAM is taking up this project as an action research to establish a demonstrable model for rural wealth creation.

Project Objective:

  • To develop a system and processes for producing ragi based food products in a cost effective, professional and hygiene manner
  • To create a local market for ragi products which would be a supplementary solution for nutritional problem being faced by local community, especially the tribal children
  • To advocacte for using ragi based nutrition supplement in the schools and hostels for tribal children run by Government and other institutions in the H D Kote taluk
  • To develop an additional food product based on the market understanding and the demand
  • To facilitate the group to have an effective marketing linkage that reaches the product beyond HD Kote area and provide them a sustainable livelihood opportunity

Taking affordable food technology to the grassroots