This is in regard to a question about ‘Business Models in Social Entrepreneurship’. Hope it helps our Father of the Nation, Mahatama Gandhi’s Business Model.
The year is 1920 and Mahatma Gandhi is applying for his Grant. His interviewer is a MBA graduate. It goes as follows: (Though there were no MBA’s then but let us assume one existed)
MBA GRADUATE – I can see you have a goal to get India free. It is a Good proposal but let us see if it is realistic and if we can fund it.
Q1. How many years would you need to get India free? I need a timeline, a plan and a model by which you will throw the British out.
GANDHI scratches his head and says it might take a 10, 20, 30 years or a lifetime.
MBA GRADUATE – That is very vague Mr. Gandhi. Can’t you give me a specific date by which you can get India free?
GANDHI says no and pleads helplessness.
MBA GRADUATE – Ok, let us see. You have written you will hold rallies and have a civil disobedience movement. I need some figures. How many rallies would you hold and in which part of India? How many people do you think would attend your rally? How would you make sure they would attend and how would you measure what goes on in them afterward? How would you measure the change that is taking place to work towards this goal of yours and how will it lead to freedom.
GANDHI tries to think.
MBA GRADUATE – Ok now you have written you will fill up the jails and Indians would follow you.
GANDHI – Yes.
MBA GRADUATE – How many would follow you according to your calculations? How would you ensure they stick to this model and stay put? You have even said they will oppose non- violently. How will you ensure they do not get scared and run away?
GANDHI again tries to think.
MBA GRADUATE – You have written you will fill up the jails. How long would that last? How would it make the British leave India and who all are the second in command? Can they take your model forward? I need to see a plan.
GANDHI says he has not made one. He tries to talk of spiritual strength guiding human nature.
The Interviewer says it is very vague and the funders need something more quantifiable to fund the project.
MBA GRADUATE – Mr. Gandhi coming to your organizational plan I can’t see what position do you hold? I do not see a clear chain of command written down anywhere. For our funding we need a clear guideline on this.
GANDHI says he will try to think of one.
MBA GRADUATE – Now Mr. Gandhi what is your model for sustainability? You know what I mean like how does the project continue when our funding finishes and India is still not free? Who will fund you?
GANDHI says he will go to people and ask for money.
The Interviewer shakes his head. No Mr. Gandhi it is not a good sustainable model that you are speaking of. I am sorry we cannot fund you.
GANDHI says he will go on with his movement by listening to his inner voice. He says he believes in walking alone even if no one follows you.
The interviewer sadly wishes him good luck.
The rest is history.
So let us not worry too much about business models in social entrepreneurship.
Clarification – This is not to equate ourselves with Gandhi or his greatness but he is the ideal for many of us.