Social entrepreneurs are vital to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

By Shashikumar Velath

Photo credit Noora Health

Social Entrepreneurs and their solution-oriented work are dedicated to the good of all. They are problem-solvers in the areas covered by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We need them for their creative solutions given the scale of the social problems our societies are confronting. We need them even more to fuse together collaboratively; leverage their changemaking skills and power to shift institutional, societal and individual mindsets towards solving our social problems.

A new era of collaborative social entrepreneurship focused on bring about large scale systemic change is emerging, giving us hope that we will be able to navigate an increasingly complex and uncertain world with confidence, converting adversities into opportunities.

Social Entrepreneurs are helping create an “everyone a changemaker world”, a world where each individual is driven by the positive idea of how she can contribute to change. Their ideas and solutions have established new paradigms of changemaking. They have shown us that we inhabit a world where everyone must contribute to changemaking by learning the changemaking skills of cognitive empathy, teamwork, collaborative leadership and engage in creative solution seeking.

Increasingly, social entrepreneurs are demonstrating through their work that we are indeed at a major turning point. This turning point, stretched over 15 years from now till 2030, is now globally recognized as the period when all countries will have to individually and collectively strive to significantly achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Social Entrepreneurs like Ramesh Kumar, Priya Agrawal and Edith Elliot are showing the pathways to fundamentally transform our world — to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Ramesh Kumar’s, Swarna Pragati Housing Microfinance Pvt. Ltd. ( has innovated in housing finance and mortgage systems to overcome the hindrances that impede the flow of credit to the rural sector.

Priya Agrawal set up Antarang Foundation when she realized that most low-income youth have little choice or control in deciding their career path, and are often pushed into jobs that they don’t thrive in. She is building their capacity to discover and pursue a career built on their passion, interest and skills.(

Edith Elliot’s social enterprise initiative, Noora Health, is equipping hospitals and nurses to leverage families of patients as caregivers to bridge the human resource gap in hospitals.

Photo Credi Noora Health

Clearly, Social Entrepreneurs are making visible the impact of their ideas in diverse areas, from civic engagement to environment, sanitation and health; human rights to education and learning. Our society is poised at the cusp of large scale transformations in which everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and social entrepreneurs. We are at an inflexion point as we try to find collective peace and prosperity in harmony with our environment.

To do this we, especially our children, must experience the liberating power of changemaking. Business-as-usual is no longer acceptable.

Shashikumar Velath is a Leadership Group Member and Vice President for Framework Change at Ashoka India.