Education in Social Enterprise was identified as one of the primary objectives of CSIE. CSIE believes that by educating students in the field of social entrepreneurship, we are creating a ready-source of talent for the sector. Currently CSIE offers a Minor course in Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship.

The Minor in Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship is the outcome of a unique partnership between IIT Madras and Villgro Innovations Foundation. The minor leverages both the expertise of academic faculty and Villgro to provide participants with analytical and practitioner perspectives on innovation and social enterprise.

The course has been offered since the 2009-10 academic year, and is now one of the most sought-after Minor courses within IIT Madras. The course lays emphasis on two aspects:

  • A theoretical understanding of the business of enterprise and innovation, in particular focusing on its relevance for India’s marginalized communities
  • Practical understanding of establishing and running an enterprise, including developing appropriate technology, product and business development


Why education in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

India currently has over one third of its population below the poverty line. A limiting factor to their progress is their lack of access to affordable technology and services. Social entrepreneurship bridges the gap between the haves and have-nots by creating an inclusive market place on both supply and demand side.

Hence, education in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship empowers students of engineering and management to create social impact by designing technology solutions that fit the needs of this group of people.

As the sector grows, it will undoubtedly face vast challenges, particularly in attracting talented people to join its workforce. By creating an interest in social enterprise, CSIE hopes that its graduates will be better equipped with the theoretical and practical understanding needed to work in this sector.


Who can attend the course?

This course is open as a Minor specialization to all B.Tech students in their 3rd and 4th year of their undergraduate degree. Students from other degree programs may also participate in this course as an elective.


What is delivered in the course?

The Minor is a 10 credit program with four courses on offer, spread over three semesters. Courses 1 & 2 are mandatory. In the third semester, students may choose between Course 3 (a Laboratory-based course) and Course 4 (a Field-based course).

Course Coverage Output from Students
Intro to Social Enterprises in India • Theory (conceptual understanding of SE domain, management concepts, frameworks for design / evaluation of SE) - by Prof LS Ganesh
• Case studies (Ashoka, Grameen Bank, Barefoot College, Phulki, Water Health International, Amul, Selco, Fab India)
• Guest lecture by practitioners (Mr Kannan Narayan, Mr Joseph Thomas (CSIE), Ms Latha Suresh (CSIM), Mr Sundaresan (Gnanadarshan Seva Trust), Ms Marie Banu (CSIM), Mr Shekhar Raghvan (Rain water harvesting), Mr Ravi Shankar (AID India), Mr Muralidharan (Sevalaya), Mr Elango (Kuthambakkam))
• Rural field visit / visit to SE is planned from next academic year
Case studies
Product Design and Business Models • Creative Problem Solving (TRIZ techniques by practitioners at Mindtree, Honeywell, Cognizant)
• Engineering Design and Prototyping (by Prof Sandipan Bandyopadhyay, Engg Design Dept)
• Entrepreneurship (by Prof Ashwin Mahalingam, Dept of Civil Engg)
• Finance (by Prof Ashwin Mahalingam, Dept of Civil Engg)
• Business models and strategy (by Prof L Prakash Sai, Dept of Management Studies)
Business plans
Laboratory based • Centre for Innovation Lab (by Prof R Nagarajan, Dept of Chemical Engg)
• Review by practitioners
Rural Field study • Rural visits (by Prof John Bosco Lourdusamy, Dept of Humanities and Social Sciences)
• Self help groups
• Participatory Learning and Action
• Review by domain experts (internal and external)
Business plans


Details of projects by students are on StudentProjects page.

A description of the individual courses is under:

Course 1: An Introduction to Social Enterprises in India
This course introduces students to the concept of social entrepreneurship, the different kinds of enterprises, the context within which social enterprises operate, nuances of the business model and so on.

Course 2: Product Design and Business Models
In this course students study the practical aspects of product design and the relevance of appropriate technology for rural situations. It also imparts students with problem-solving and business development skills.

Course 3: Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (Laboratory based)
In this course students get to put their theory of product development to use and test out their entrepreneurial activities by developing a product prototype, based on their field observations. In some cases, CSIE may offer limited funding to students based on the merit of their project.

Course 4: Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (Rural Field study)
In this course, students gain practical exposure to the social and economic issues relevant to rural India. Through field visits, students are able to assess the need for technology intervention, and are expected to develop a workable solution for an identified need within the area. CSIE may offer limited funding to students based on the merit of their project.


The statistics are

Year 2010-11 2011-12
Average student enrollment per course 30 40
Student projects undertaken Course 1 – 14 projects
Course 2 – 10 projects
Course 3 – 2 projects
Course 4 – 4 projects
Course 1 – 15 projects
Course 2 – 12 projects (continuing)
Course 3 – 4 projects
Course 4 – 3 projects
Number of guest lecturers invited in 4 Courses 20 21
Field visits in Course 4 many visits by the various groups of students, two visits by entire class 2 visits by entire class with supplementary visits by students

The students are able to attain practical experience by working on projects in Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship – Laboratory course or Rural field visit course.

For example one group of students worked on project ‘Electricity production through Stirling Engines’ with many phases of prototyping and design. Group of students completed projects like ‘Creating jobs and empowering women’, ‘Education and Services Group’, ‘Community business centre’ and ‘Paddy processing and sale’ as part of the course. The studies were carried out at an identified village.

The proposed solutions include business proposals with suggested business plan, operation and marketing plan. The students gain information through focus group discussion, interaction with village panchayat, people and social enterprises.


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