The pioneering social entrepreneur of India: exploring the life and work of Vidyasagar in Colonial British India
by Abhijit Roy
International Journal of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IJSEI), Vol. 3, No. 6, 2015

Abstract: Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyay ('Vidyasagar') is widely regarded as an eminent social reformer from Bengal, India of the 19th century. In this paper, we explore Vidyasagar's initiatives in conjunction with the British administrators, were not simply as those of asocial reformer, but of a pioneering social entrepreneur. We begin by reviewing definitions of social entrepreneurship and establishing his pioneering work in this domain. Using a 2 × 2 matrix, we develop a typology of his enterprises by considering whether they were: a) directed by positive or desirable (i.e., approach) outcomes vs. instigated by a prevention of negative or undesirable (i.e., avoidance) outcomes; b) whether these policies were directed particularly at women, or at the general society at large. He funded most of his social entrepreneurial works either from the revenues generated by his own literary works, or from his salary. We finally review the salient characteristics of social entrepreneurs as defined in the literature, and illustrate how Vidyasagar's work meets these criteria.

Online publication date: Fri, 11-Dec-2015

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