Santanu Mishra feted with Sustainability Leader of the Year

New Delhi : Odisha-born Santanu Mishra is the recipient of the Sustainability Leader of the Year award, conferred during the UBS Forum Sustainability Summit & Awards 2023 in Mumbai, presented by IBM. The honour is an acknowledgement of his pioneering the concept of Social Venture Philanthropy (SVP) in the development sector.


Social Venture Philanthropy (SVP) is in fact an adaptation of the successful business model of venture capital for the development sector, linking social investment strategies to charitable giving with a clear focus on achieving scalability and sustainability.


The idea behind amalgamation of social venture philanthropy was to bridge the gap between corporate or funders who have the required resources to make large-scale social investment, and grassroots organisations which are doing good work on the ground, but lack the wherewithal to meet the high expectations of the donors.


“I have a firm conviction in the potential of local community-based organisations (CBOs) in bringing change at the very grassroots. Hundreds of social entrepreneurs are born every year in different corners of the country, but they need the right guidance to survive, succeed and serve the aspiring nation. I convey my gratitude to the award organisers and its partners for appreciating and encouraging our endeavours through this accolade,” says Mr. Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder & Executive Trustee of Smile Foundation.


A management strategist and a legal consultant by profession, a company secretary by qualification, and an entrepreneur by passion, Mr. Santanu Mishra also completed his management education from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). He quit his fulltime corporate career in 2005 and has since been actively nurturing and spearheading Smile Foundation as its Executive Trustee.


A pioneer in applying many successful management practices in the social sector, Mr. Santanu Mishra’s contribution can also be described as a convergence of good governance, championing entrepreneurial spirit at the grassroots, leveraging emerging technologies, encouraging innovation, creating a high impact model, and imbibing the philosophy of real work and real change.


Under SVP, Smile Foundation identifies and implements its development projects through credible community-based organizations. It also handholds and builds capacities of these organizations, focusing on achieving scalability and sustainability, creating a culture of leadership and excellence and inculcating a deep sense of accountability among them. When an organization achieves self-sustainability, Smile Foundation exits gradually from the project. The model is aligned with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission of the Govt of India, and with the Sustainable Development Goal 17, related to partnership for sustainable development.


In order to complement the working model of Social Venture Philanthropy, Santanu has also initiated a special programme called Empowering Grassroots. The mission is to build capacities of genuine grassroots initiatives through extensive workshops and training programmes by engaging Indian and international experts. Social entrepreneurs leading community-based organisations from across India are trained in subjects such as operations, organisational building, communication, mobilisation and fundraising, and are further assisted in applying their learning in their day-to-day operations on the ground.



Santanu has been directly engaging with many of these grassroots social entrepreneurs, mentoring and advising them to excel in their endeavours. Till date, Smile Foundation has partnered with and built capacities of more than 1,000 grassroots organisations, many of these initiatives are now self-sustainable.

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