Yamini | November 11, 2014

Fellowship diaries: A corporate lawyer’s reality check

For someone who spent endless hours working away in a corporate law firm while wondering about ways to contribute in a meaningful way, working at Villgro (as part of the Villgro Fellowship) has been a busy, positive and eye-opening experience. I have met a bunch of committed, enthusiastic, hard-working and intelligent people with a fantastic attitude marching out there to solve problems impacting communities, instead of complaining or accepting things as they are.

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Interacting with dynamic people trying their best to think of simple (and complex) solutions that improve lives for poorer sections of society is an eye-opening experience. It is refreshing, inspiring and humbling to see talented entrepreneurs focus their efforts on achieving social good and to see the interest displayed and efforts made by investors and mentors in supporting them. The fact that this is being done with a view to making profits makes this even more real. What is really heartening to note is that while the focus is on social good, the objectives and conversations are all about making a mark and profitability like the corporate world that I was part of. The sheer amount of work and effort that I see being put in – whether by entrepreneurs or organisations like Villgro – is also no different from the corporate sector.

Like the corporate sector, social entrepreneurs are constantly running and thinking of new ideas and ways to improve their businesses, seek investments and raise profitability. On the one hand, social entrepreneurs are no different from other entrepreneurs seeking to make more money like any other business with the customer and/or product segmentation being different, but the difference lies in them being a breed of innovators trying to solve tough problems, often for markets where previous efforts of the Government, NGOs and corporates, if any, have not been enough.

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My ‘lawyer job’ at Villgro is pretty much the same as that of any corporate lawyer in the kind of work that I do (such as legal research and advice and drafting and reviewing agreements), but the difference is I now feel a sense of purpose and am inspired by the bigger picture. In my ‘non-lawyer’ avatar at Villgro, I get to meet many different people from various parts of the country, which provides a completely unique perspective, and keeps me constantly surprised (in a good way) about how different and, yet, the same entrepreneurs and investors are.

One of the best parts of my experience at Villgro is the fact that I do feel that I am in touch with reality and am quite enjoying it.