The International Institute of Social Entrepreneurship
This summer I visited the International Institute of Social Entrepreneurship (IISE). Situated on the banks of the Vellayani fresh water lake, on the outskirts on Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India , IISE is a testimony to social enterprise at its very best. This is another venture of Sabriye Tenberken and Paul Kronenberg who founded Braille without Borders in Lhasa, Tibet. IISE is an institute that has been established to train participants (age 18+) who have the right initiative, motivation and potential to establish and run their own social projects.
Paul took great pride in showing me around the three acre campus that has been built with eco-friendly materials . He has incorporated rain water harvesting, solar water-heaters, bio glass plants, “Nothing is wasted here, not even human waste” joked Paul.
The campus, that feels like a holiday resort and an university at the same time houses the International Institute of Social Entrepreneurs. Sabriye and Paul have put together a strong program to enable and empower social entrepreneurs with visual impairments from across the globe. This year they had 23 participants from 20 different countries and in 2010 they will train 40 students to , “run their own social projects” The program that is run with the help of a few staff and catalysts, has a two month internship also built into it. The participants would get hands on training at a non profit organization in India and will train in all aspects of non profit management. The program also requires the students to create a real life project as a part of their training, a project that will be useful to the community, thereby ensuring that the institute contributes to solving some of the issues faced by the community at the same time they train their participants.
IISE is getting ready for their second year and are actively looking for catalysts who want to be role models and discussion partners for the participants, inspiring them to be the force of positive social change in our world.
Sabriye and Paul never cease to amaze me with their innovative ideas and high energy. They truly live by Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world”