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Atul Satija, Founder and CEO of GiveIndia

Having worked for companies like Google, InMobi, Samsung, and Infosys, Atul Satija has seen the for-profit sector up close. And, when he finally made the switch to the not-for-profit sector, he quickly identified the major difference between the two industries. 

In Satija’s words, the amount of capital and talent available in the development sector is very different from the for-profit sector. And because of this, a social entrepreneur needs higher levels of resilience and perseverance than a for-profit entrepreneur. The right mix of the two can make a social entrepreneur successful.

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Three secrets to becoming a successful social entrepreneur

One, as a social entrepreneur, you will have to strive and persevere more as you are trying to “solve the most important problem, not the most lucrative one,” said Atul. This naturally diminishes the amount of talent and capital available as the work is not as rewarding for most out there as compared to a lucrative corporate career.

Two, one will need to care enough about the cause, be emotionally invested in the business and have high levels of empathy. “If you can cry for your business every day, only then can you give the amount of perseverance required to become successful,” stated Atul Satija. Atul found his calling for the development sector while volunteering in the rural areas of Delhi. He suggests that aspiring social entrepreneurs engage in volunteering first to gauge their commitment to the sector.

Lastly, every social entrepreneur has to work with the government because whatever causes they pick up, the government will have a vested interest. Your muscle and tenacity to work with the government will matter in taking your organisation forward. This is an aspect that for-profit entrepreneurs can choose not to include but social entrepreneurs have to keep in mind.

How do you measure/track success?

Atul Satija answered this both from an investor’s point of view and as an entrepreneur. “A typical investor will look at all the conventional success tracking parameters that are used in the for-profit sector. If they give you Rs 15 lakh initially, and you can generate Rs 2 crore from the market with that Rs 15 lakh, you are a successful social entrepreneur.”

“But you can track your organisation’s success by looking at your effort’s output, the outcome of that output, and its impact on society,” said Atul. He elaborated that if your cause is skill development of underprivileged youngsters, the training is your output and any youth getting a job is the outcome. If anyone does not get a job after taking your training programme, you are not impacting society with your organisation.

Can social entrepreneurs collaborate to find better success?

Atul Satija agrees that collaboration among social entrepreneurs can indeed lead to overall success for all, but it is not happening even when everyone knows the point. He connects the issue with the limited number of investors available in the development sector. “Everyone is trying to bag that one donor. Social entrepreneurs naturally compete among themselves rather than collaborate.”, said Atul.

However, all hopes are not lost as investors now are starting programmes to bring social entrepreneurs together and collaborate on a common cause. Entrepreneurs working on different societal problems also tend to work in partnerships. Lastly, technology will play a key role in transforming the development sector and enable social entrepreneurs more to drive growth.

Advice from social entrepreneurs to for-profit entrepreneurs

“Instead of just selling the company’s mission statement, try selling the meaning of one’s work. Make your employees understand why they are here in your company,” Atul said, adding that the empathy level in the development sector is 4x to 5x times higher. If the for-profit sector can replicate this, startups can reduce their turnover rates by massive numbers.

To know more, listen to the podcast here 


00:50 – Atul’s inspiration to step into the development sector

07:20 – How social entrepreneurs track their progress

10:14 – Technology’s role in the development sector

15:15 – What for-profit sector learn from the non-profit sector

19:30 – How GiveIndia is making giving better

25:18 – How to establish trust and ensure last-mile impact

29:11 – How you can start contributing with just 1 percent

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