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August 17, 2011

Notes on Rashmi Bansal's 'I have a dream' - Inspiring stories of 20 Social Entrepreneurs

Publisher: Westland Publications
Author: Rashmi Bansal

Having previously authored the bestsellers on entrepreneurship, ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ and ‘connect the Dots’; Rashmi Bansal writes on a similar theme and incorporates the element of social entrepreneurship in her latest. It is a story of 20 idealists that think and act like entrepreneurs. They are dedicated to various causes with one common factor: the belief in the principles of management and its optimal use to achieve greater common good.

The book has three parts: Rainmakers, Changemakers and Spiritual Capitalists. The first section, expectedly the largest of the three, has 11 stories of people whose enterprises make profits, but for whom profit is not the only driving force. The next section is the most inspirational, about genuine change agents who have kickstarted movements of wide-ranging consequences in areas such as RTI activism and education. The third section, as its title signals, is about those who have blended spiritualism and service for common good.

Two stories stood out for me: Mirakle couriers started by Dhruv Lakhra which employs exclusively deaf people to deliver parcels and Super 30 started by Anand Kumar who enrolled 30 underprivileged students , prepare them for 2 odd years to get through IIT-JEE. Both these stories defy the stereotypes and have never wandered away from the core mission and vision of the company, even though their business is highly scalable.

The most relevant story as of today must be that of Arvind Kejriwal, but i hope this chapter is updated in the next edition to include bits about the messy Lokpal bill controversy. I am not underestimating his genuine efforts in filing numerous RTI applications through ‘Parvirtan’, but it just seems odd not to know anything about the roadblocks he is facing along with managing the entrepreneurship role.

Most of the stories are inspiring and portrays a strong conviction of the entrepreneur as a life-changing experience. All of them portray the same philosophy – be the change you always wanted to see in the world. The most fascinating facet of these stories is that all are in Indian context and have overcome some genuine bureaucratic and social issues to achieve in their own spheres.

The only quibble I have with this book is that certain chapters are stretched unnecessarily and poorly edited. The Chilka Lake story goes in circles during the middle portions and does not contribute much to the overall setup. Also, the author’s knack of breaking into Hindi vernacular has been constantly criticized and this book is no different. In fact, out of the three books she has authored, this one is peppered with maximum Hindi usage. There is nothing wrong in keeping the language simple and accessible, but the deliberate intentions of trying to reach readers through Hindi one-liners seems forced, almost as second thought.

But these are mere nitpickings in an otherwise engaging, competent third part in the entrepreneurship series of books by the same author. The main intention of bringing out the stories of not-so-glamorous, almost invisible entrepreneurs is commendable and deserves a look ahead.

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