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Demystifying The Social Sector

The social sector is no doubt a very appealing space for a lot of us. We want to do good, lift others up, and feel the joy of being a net positive to the society around us.

However, navigating your way in and around the industry could be confusing for anyone. In our effort to help more people join in the army of doing good, we have penned some of the key learnings from our experience that we believe could be helpful for anyone thinking about entering the social space.

Your Solution Is Valuable

Social Entrepreneurs or more broadly those working in the social sector often feel disillusioned about the work they have done. The numbers of problems are so large and complex, that often the work that one ‘social change warrior’ is able to put in may seem insignificant. But that is almost never the case. Even a tiny step, in the right direction, goes a long way. And while this may seem clichéd, Punya founders can say from experience that even a small change has given a new life to many of our partners that were earlier completely lost, and a few extra thousand rupees of revenue per month have put many underprivileged unemployed to work.

A simple example are the brilliant sanitary napkins manufactured by women from across India who have been able to get a few extra hours of employment because of our intervention. We are proud to have all of them as our partners.

Sourcing from NGOs cannot be an excuse for poor quality products or service

To all budding social sector geeks out there, this lesson is extremely important. No, customers will not give you any leeway because you are helping out NGOs, and your packaging and delivery has to be at par with the best in the industry, no less. Market based interventions in the social sector, such as Punya, have been tried umpteen times. And why they often do not succeed is because the market is efficient. Only the best quality products delivered at the lowest price possible will survive in the long run. More often than not, products made by NGOs may either be slightly more expensive or may lose out to products produced at an industrial scale by big corporations. In this scenario, our best advice would be to have your communications top notch. The value proposition has to be communicated better to the customer, or else you will lose out. While this is still a work-in-progress at Punya, we would advise that you focus on your communications and on letting the customer know what you stand for clearly to ensure success. Minor transgressions on product quality or price may be acceptable if the customer knows what he is paying for and where the money is going.

The fact that you don't have to compromise on quality just because you're sourcing from an NGO is best exemplified by Sneh, whose masala chai is a favourite at our office!

You will watch your partners grow, and that will be the most fulfilling experience

Watching your NGO partners succeed has to be the most priceless feeling, and that’s why you entered this sector in the first place! To share an anecdote, we had partnered with an NGO that trained the women and girls at its shelter home to make bags and notebooks. One of the girls at this NGO was a victim of violence and had had a very traumatic experience that completely crushed her confidence. Starting out, we had kept our expectations low with respect to her output, packaging and shipping capability and more generally her coordination abilities. But to our surprise, this girl was the fastest learner we have seen, and from being reticent person initially to actively engaging with the outside world including delivery partners and customers left us in complete awe. We were so happy to have just witnessed her transformation, and were content with whatever little we could do to help her in her professional endeavours.

You can support her below!

All in all, budding social sector enthusiasts, get that social sector experience and we promise it will be extremely fulfilling and full of learnings that you will carry with you throughout your lifetime. For any further questions and queries, just drop us a mail at and we'll get back to you asap :-)

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