Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Third Gender of the Third Sector

Once upon a time, a long long time ago lived a demon called “Hardtosolveproblemu”

He was the greatest problem ever born on the planet. Social workers far and wide feared him - those who approached him went broke and committed suicide.

No one would dare to touch him. Funders did not have a category to classify him. No monitoring and evaluation framework could ever measure him.

Now you will want to ask what gave him so much power?

For that, we go back to even longer longer ago. It was a time when problems were having a hard time surviving. They were getting solved one after another and the world was getting better!

At such a time, however, there was one problem, very small and insignificant.

This problem prayed to the evil demon Seperatasur. Pleased by the penance, the demon asked this little problem what he wanted.

The little problem said, “Oh Seperatasur, make me a HUGE problem that can never be solved.”

Seperatasur said,“That is not be possible, my child. There isn’t any problem that can never be solved.”

After some thought, the little problem said, “Okay, in that case grant me a boon that I become a problem that can be solved neither by a charity nor by a for profit, not by law and legal entities nor by governments and bureaucrats, not by self sacrificing social workers nor by money splashing philanthropists. Let me be solved neither by scale nor by niche, neither by analysis nor by measurement.”

I grant you the boon, little problem. From today, you shall be the feared demon Hardtosolveprolemu,” said the evil lord, and disappeared.

Over time, the problem grew bigger - he became ferocious and gargantuan.

Many tried to solve him. But they failed.

When donors tried to support this work, they went bankrupt. When for-profits came to support it, they saw no market. They all were troubled. They prayed to Lord Togetherwearestronger, the patron saint of the social sector.

The lord, listening to their woes, took form on Earth as a unique entity - the Social Enterprise (Socialenterpriseshwar).

This form of the Lord had never been seen before.

It did not make profits but did not rely solely on charity. There was no legal entity that could fully capture it and it had varying definitions. It fulfilled aspirations of the millennials financially and yet, channeled their creativity to maximise impact.

After a slow initial phase, Socialenterpriseshwar gained momentum. It approached Hardtosolveproblemu.

What a fight it was!

The problem resisted in all ways. Its social, political and cultural dimensions acted together to maximise its challenge.

But nothing could stop Socialenterpriseashwar. She changed form based on the need. She was able to create solutions that went viral and scaled up and yet had local contextual applications. She grew to accommodate various ways of solving issues in new ways. She could hold paradoxes beautifully.

Finally, after a long battle, she brought forth a combination of all the activities of her ecosystem. She was finally able to solve Hardtosolveproblemu.

She was hailed as the third gender of the third sector - a form that would solve the most difficult problems that were faced by us. Problems that no one would solve our touch, but needed to be dealt with.

So remember, dear readers - when a social enterprise appears before you, it is Lord Togetherwearestronger himself. Remember to offer some prasad (organizational funding), recite a few sacred mantras (theories of change) and avoid giving that strange, bewildered look!

This article was contributed by CAP Member Abhishek Thakore, who is the co-founder of The Blue Ribbon Movement, a social enterprise with the motto ‘Together, We are Stronger’

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