Isabel Salovaara

Isabel Salovaara

Originally from Chicago, I bring a background in anthropology and in the education field in India to my current work with the Jindal Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Location Sonipat, India


  • This seems like a very pragmatic approach--definitely good to make use of existing resources and structures. Would you have any suggestions for people who want to start a social enterprise in a field where this support does not (yet) exist?

  • Absolutely! Ashoka, the network cited in the step, has as their philosophy the idea that everyone can be a changemaker.

  • Which country do you come from, Terseer? Is there a different set of terms used more commonly there?

  • You're absolutely correct about the need to strike a good balance between clarity and common goals. This was one issue that arose when our center was doing research on social enterprise and women's empowerment in India. Many of our respondents from more traditional NGOs were concerned that focusing so specifically on social enterprises (which we were defining...

  • Interesting point! There has been quite a bit of debate about where the "sharing economy" fits into these conceptions. Many people have argued that the big names of the sharing economy do not share the social ethos or the positive social effects suggested by most of the terms in this step, e.g.:...

  • The line between social enterprise and CSR can get a bit fuzzy sometimes, especially here in India where most recent and well-known legislation has been in the CSR arena. I guess the way to think about it is that social enterprise places social/environmental impact at the heart of the organization, whereas CSR is typically more peripheral to the core business...

  • Very interesting perspective! There are many ways in which social enterprises can capitalize on a more "corporate" look and feel (from branding to the way they quantify their impact) to gain financial and other support for areas that have been neglected.

  • Can you tell us more about the problems in your community that necessitate these changes?

  • I'd be interested to understand more about what you mean by "banalization of basic global challenges"--could you elaborate?

  • We look forward to hearing more about the diverse social issues and solutions you're working on!

  • Great to have you on board! Looking forward to hearing your insights.

  • It's fine to be critical, and you raise some important points--thank you. For the sake of argument, do you think that long-term employment in the café itself (or perhaps others like it if the organization were to scale up), would not be enough to meet the needs of these women?

  • Interesting. Do you mean that they should tie up with another organization to expand employment opportunities beyond the café?

  • My sense is that the reception has been quite positive. In fact, Sheroes is one of the top-rated restaurants on TripAdvisor in Agra!

  • Excellent point. Often, social enterprises have to be part of a multi-pronged solution to an issue.

  • Thank you for sharing this example!

  • This sounds like a fantastic idea. I hope you will share it in the International Social Innovation Challenge at the end of the course!

  • I do not believe that they have an e-commerce portal up and running, but you could get in touch and suggest it:

  • Yes, think of it as an opportunity to put your idea into a form that can be shared with others for their feedback!

  • Sounds like you have a great model for encouraging people to see and take up the opportunities around them. Hope this course will help you improve it further!

  • Perhaps you could develop a social enterprise model that addresses multiple facets of the challenges you have seen and offers opportunities in both education and employment. If you're not already familiar with it, you might check out the work of the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India for inspiration:

  • It is great to see these opportunities for collaboration come to light through the course! Have you guys been able to follow up with each other? It would be great to know the outcome as we assess the impact of this course.

  • Awesome! Hope you'll be able to share some of the resources from this course with your clients.

  • Starting a social venture definitely requires a willingness to take some calculated risks! Perhaps there are some things that you could do to develop that courage--such as integrating your venture with your writing work, or identifying a team and/or mentor to support you!

  • Glad to have educators like yourself taking this course. Teaching the next generation about social enterprise is an incredibly valuable role!

  • Since social enterprise is a relatively new field, creating good policies to support social enterprise is going to be an important challenge around the world in the coming decades. So glad to have you on board!

  • It is great to have advocates of social enterprise in the public sector! Thanks for joining us.

  • Wow, what a small world! Thanks to both of you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Social enterprise collaborations with the government can be a very powerful model of enacting social change. Glad to have you join in the conversation!

  • Welcome! We hope you will find both the teaching resources and the discussion with your fellow participants helpful. We've seen in the past that the course really comes alive through the comments.

  • This is indeed a challenge--to draw the line between personal and professional forms of social engagement can be very challenging for social entrepreneurs, especially at early stages.

  • Sorry for any confusion--you're right that only the likes on the post in the course count. Only those registered for the course can vote here.

  • This is a great point, Frank. FutureLearn will soon be incorporating a "study groups" feature--but not in time for this course, unfortunately! For now, coordinating through a Facebook group or on Twitter is probably your best bet.

  • The challenge is international in the sense that we invite students from all over the world to join. Your proposed social enterprise can absolutely address a local problem, though!

  • Remember that the submission isn't until the end of the course. You may have a lot more ideas by then to answer the challenge questions.

  • Yep! We will be giving guidance on that in the second week of the course. Those steps should give you a better sense of some of the options that are out there in terms of venture models, and which one will be most suitable for your social enterprise idea.

  • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Might be worth reaching out to UnLtd directly, since they do offer resources for organizations trying something new--perhaps including a new funding model?

  • Thanks for your feedback! Our second course will have more 'toolkit'-type steps--hope you'll join us!

  • Great examples!

  • Nice analogy!

  • Isabel Salovaara replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Thanks for your comment! The question of how to sustainably fund organizations that work to meet social needs is indeed a pressing one.

  • Great example of a social enterprise!

  • Thanks for sharing! If you'd like to add these important points to the class board, it should now be open for editing:

  • Hi everyone, the padlet pinboard mentioned above should now be open for editing: Please share some images of challenges in your local community!

  • Some major themes that are emerging from this discussion so far are education, health, and poverty, but people are also bringing up really important points about the many connections among these and other challenges. It's very difficult to discuss any of these problems in isolation from each other.

  • These are really important cross-cutting points.