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How does pandemic force social enterprises to evolve? – A case study of ThankUFoods

Ranjitha G.P. (Department of Marketing, Indian Institute of Management Nagpur, Nagpur, India)
Rai Siddhant Sinha (Department of Strategic Management, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kozhikode, India)
Augustin Paul Paul (School of Agribusiness, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India)
R. Sai Shiva Jayanth (Jindal School of Banking and Finance, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 16 August 2022


Learning outcomes

After completion of this case, students would be able to understand the challenges faced by social entrepreneurship in a time of pandemic, as well as gain a perspective of the background, history, evolution and the setup of such organizations; appreciate the role of marketing methods in tackling the challenges faced and how the management of such enterprises could use them on the ground; evaluate possible future options/pathways that could be taken in the backdrop of a pandemic and, more importantly, in a developing country context; and apply the elements of social entrepreneurship theory and suggest a way ahead for ThankUfoods (TUF).

Case overview/synopsis

TUF is a social enterprise that empowers visually and physically challenged people by using while profitably selling food products. Few years of existence, it was facing a major dilemma regarding strategies to continue its existing business and the way forward. Because of the pandemic, the traditional offline business models became redundant on which TUF was heavily dependent. At the same time, TUF had to balance providing support to its employees, staying financially afloat and upholding its parent organization’s core objectives, the India Association for Blind (IAB). IAB was founded to rescue and provide livelihood for specially abled people. TUF was formed as a sister concern that combined charitable work and profit earning to make visually challenged people self-sufficient. At this juncture, the protagonist of the case Mr Abdul Raheem, chief executive officer of TUF and vice president of IAB, approached consultants to chart the way forward. He was forced to explore novel options ranging from conceptual ones, such as setting the right objectives and revisiting mission and vision, to more operational ones, such as venturing into online space, increasing advertisements and achieving breakeven sales. This case study highlights the overall journey of TUF, the underlying constraints, the new challenges faced and the dilemma ahead. Further, it covers the context and challenges peculiar to an emerging market setting. More importantly, it provides a setting for the students to be in the protagonist’s position and ponder – how should a social enterprise functioning in an emerging market function in times of pandemic crises? If it decides to explore novel options, what should be those, how can it proceed, and what to be cautious about.

Complexity academic level

The target audience for the case study are students from MBA and BBA courses, management trainees who are interested to learn about the challenges social entrepreneurship face at the time of crisis. This case study could be used to explain concepts about social entrepreneurship, brand positioning, e-commerce marketing and decision-making in the time of pandemics/crises. The case is also suitable for senior management personnel who participate in executive education programs.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available for educators only.

Subject code

CSS 3: Entrepreneurship



G.P., R., Sinha, R.S., Paul, A. and Jayanth, R.S.S. (2022), "How does pandemic force social enterprises to evolve? – A case study of ThankUFoods", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 12 No. 3.



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