August 2018

Revitalizing the Yamuna River: Social Entrepreneurship Approaches

Bharat Rao

New Delhi, India’s capital city, with a population of
almost twenty-two million faces a daunting challenge: Its sacred
river, the Yamuna, is one of the most polluted in the world. In fact,
within the city limits, the Yamuna is primarily constituted by
treated and untreated sewage and other toxic effluents. The water
is rendered “dead” with zero oxygen, thus posing serious health
hazards to the citizens of New Delhi. Might there be a way to
cleanup and revitalize the river plain using social entrepreneurial
approaches? In this paper, we propose to study the key
ingredients required for creating and nurturing a social
entreprenurship and innovation based ecosystem in the region.
The methodology employed is qualitative in nature and draws on
evidence based on interpretative interviews as well as direct and
indirect observations. Using case examples of five socially driven
ventures in the region, we examine how they they impact the local
community in a manner that opens up new frontiers for positive
social change. In doing so, these social entrepreneurs create value
by introducing technology innovations that solve problems, while
creating new opportunities for organizations and communities
involved with the Yamuna river cleanup efforts.