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Upaya Social Ventures Selects 11 Social Enterprises for its 2019 Livelihoods Accelerator Cohort

Posted By Heather Soehn, Upaya Social Ventures, Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Seattle, WA – May 22, 2019

Upaya Social Ventures, a nonprofit organization that invests in social enterprises that create jobs for the extreme poor, today announced the 11 companies that have been selected for its third accelerator program. All 11 social enterprises show the potential to create jobs at scale for the extreme poor in India.

The 11 participating companies represent cities across India and operate in a diverse range of industries from rural manufacturing to tourism. The selection process was aimed at identifying enterprises with the potential to create jobs, or significantly increase income, for 1,000 people in three years who are currently living on less than $1.90 per day.

“This is the third accelerator cohort that Upaya has selected in India,” Says Kate Cochran, CEO of Upaya. “For the 2019 cohort, we opened applications to a wide range of companies as long as they could demonstrate job creation potential for the poor. The diverse companies we selected are inspiring evidence that social entrepreneurs are a powerful ally in fighting poverty.”

The entrepreneurs will take part in Upaya’s four-month accelerator program that includes three three-day workshops centered around finance, impact management and communication, and organizational development. The program also includes one-on-one mentoring and exposure to investors and industry experts.

"This is the most diverse set of enterprises and entrepreneurs we have had at Upaya's Accelerator program,” said Amit Antony Alex, Upaya’s India Country Director. “We believe there is going to be a lot of peer learning along with the support provided as part of the accelerator program."

The 2019 cohort was selected from a competitive pool of 195 applications by a committee of impact investing, impact management, and social sector experts. To date, 19 social enterprises have graduated from Upaya’s accelerator program, and four have received Upaya investment. At the end of the 2019 program, Upaya expects to select between one and three enterprises from the cohort to add to its investment portfolio.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this Upaya cohort,” said Vasanthi Veluri, co-founder of Almora Craft Design Studio, one of the participating companies. “We look forward to learning about various diverse business practices, and [refining] ours based on this understanding. Also, we wish to share and get feedback on our work from a business perspective from investors and mentors to create better livelihood opportunities for our women artisans.”

A complete list of the participating companies includes:

ABOUT UPAYA SOCIAL VENTURES

Upaya Social Ventures (Upaya) creates dignified jobs for the poorest of the poor by building scalable businesses with investment and consulting support. Since 2011, Upaya has supported 16 small and growing businesses in India with investments and expertise, and those partner companies have created more than 12,000 lasting, dignified jobs. With offices in Seattle, Washington and Bangalore, India, Upaya is committed to a goal of helping its partners create employment opportunities in the world’s most difficult-to-reach regions and industries. Please visit www.upayasv.org for more information. 

Tags:  accelerators  accelerators; social entrepreneurship; social impa  business training  capacity development  early stage ecosystem  India  mentoring  smes  social impact 

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Spread the Word: Stanford Seed is Seeking Applicants in Africa & India

Posted By Kendra Gladych, Stanford University, Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Stanford Seed is looking for high-potential CEOs or founders of companies and market-driven social enterprises based in Africa, India and Sri Lanka who are motivated for growth.

The Seed Transformation Program is an unconventional, high-touch learning experience that partners with entrepreneurs in emerging markets to build thriving enterprises that transform lives.

The application deadline is 15 June 2019.

Learn more about the program and access the application here.

Know someone who might be interested? Help us spread the word! Visit this online toolkit for easy ways to share the program with your network.

Tags:  Africa  Agribusiness  Agriculture  ANDE Africa  Business  digital economy  east africa  education  emerging market  emerging markets  energy  entrepreneurship  Fintech  High-Growth Entrepreneurship  India  India; ANDE members  Kenya  leadership  Liberia  professional development  Rwanda  Scale  scaling  smes  social enterprise  Social entrepreneurship  social impact  South Africa  Tanzania  Training  Uganda  West Africa  Women 

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Defining Financial Exclusion: why we need to focus on the problem, not just the solution

Posted By Lexi Doolittle, Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund, Thursday, July 19, 2018
Updated: Thursday, July 19, 2018

There’s a lot of discussion on financial inclusion, the value of the bringing an individual into the fold of the formal financial system, and the potential benefits of that inclusion. However, there is little discussion on what it actually means to be financially excluded and how, because of this exclusion, the lives of the working poor, their communities, and entire institutional systems are more insecure, costly, and constricted. 

This new article from S3IDF engages with the lived realities of financial exclusion with the intention of driving a movement where various stakeholders collectively create an intelligent foundation on which we can develop replicable pathways towards sustainable financial inclusion for more stable, affordable, fruitful livelihoods for the financially excluded, their families and their communities.

 

 

Tags:  Access to Finance  capacity development  Entrepreneurship  finance  India  Private sector development  Social entrepreneurship 

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Upaya Social Ventures Accelerates Agri-Businesses in India to Create Jobs for Ultra Poor

Posted By Devyani Singh, Aspen Institute, Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Upaya Social Ventures Announces Social Enterprises Selected for its Accelerator

11 innovative startups have been selected to join Upaya’s accelerator cohort focused on the agriculture industry in India.

Upaya Social Ventures today announced the 11 companies selected for its second accelerator program, which will target the agribusiness industry in India. The 11 participating companies were selected from a competitive pool of 281 applications by a committee of impact investing, agriculture, and social sector experts. The entrepreneurs represent cities across India and agriculture sub-sectors such as organics, processing and agri-waste.

About Upaya Social Ventures: Upaya creates dignified jobs for the poorest of the poor by building scalable businesses with investment and consulting support. Since 2011, Upaya has supported 14 small and growing businesses in India with investments and expertise. Upaya partners have created nearly 8,000 jobs. With offices in Seattle, Washington and Bangalore, India, Upaya has committed to a goal of helping partners create 15,000 jobs by the end of 2019. For more information about Upaya, visit www.upayasv.org.

Read the press release here (cohort overview attached)

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Tags:  agriculture  india  SGB  upaya 

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Three Powerful Tools for Fintech Practitioners

Posted By Jane Del Ser, Bankable Frontier Associates, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By David del Ser

(Watch our video)

Since we launched the Catalyst Fund in 2015, we have helped 15 fintech entrepreneurs deploy novel approaches to bring products and services to their customers. We have distilled the successful patterns and behaviors we have observed into toolkits and posts for those considering fintech methods for their businesses, whether they be startups or established players.


At a high level, successful fintech startups adopt principles of Design, Risk Management and Product Management, and also put modern technologies like smartphones, artificial intelligence and cloud computing at the core of their value propositions. At successful fintech startups Designers, Product Managers, CEOs and Engineers reinforce each other in multidisciplinary teams to explore the overlap between what customers find desirable, what engineers can build, and what the business requires to grow.

Design

The function of Design is to represent the voice of the customer at all times to make sure a company stays centered on what matters most. Design is not a one-off process. In the spirit of customer validation, designers keep tight feedback loops with customers throughout the product development process, from early prototypes to usability testing of new features.


Through user research (UX) techniques like online surveys and one-one-one interviews, designers invest heavily during initial stages in order to know their customers like the back of their hand; what are their problems and pain points, and how can their company help? In fact, designers segment customers into personas to allow the team to constantly keep in mind different user profiles and needs.


Aesthetics matter. Designers work hard to perfect a product’s UI and its look and feel, so it can live up to the high expectations created by WhatsApp or Google. But great design goes beyond just user research and visuals during early product design stages. Successful inclusive fintech startups map out the Customer Journey and Service Blueprint in detail to fully understand the perspective of the user each time they  interact with the company.


Ultimately, great design creates trust, that elusive quality that all startups are chasing and that distinguishes them from their competitors. We’ve captured our lessons for startups to build trust with their customers through their products or services in our Design for Trust Toolkit.


Product Management

But designers can’t work in isolation; they need someone to lead the orchestra - and that’s where a product manager comes in. The PM takes a big picture view and works to ensure that designers, engineers and marketers all work towards the same goal. Crucially, she makes sure the product or service goal is backed by data and evidence. She keeps the whole process nimble through quick agile iterations focused on the activities of users, from initial onboarding to the retention phase. For example, using A/B Testing and usage analytics she captures details of how each users is interacting with every screen to inform engagement.


The effective product manager is very focused on the key metrics for the business, such as customer lifetime value or acquisition costs. She also works hard to explore the best channels to find new customers, including viral referrals and social media. As an example, our portfolio company Destacame has seen lead acquisition costs dropping to less than $3 through these types of digital channels. We explore some of the different tools and frameworks to help startups focus as they chart their journey from idea, to minimum viable product (MVP) and growth in our upcoming product/market fit toolkit.

Modern Technologies

And finally, you can’t have good fintech without the “tech” that is enabling these new approaches.


Most important are the smartphones, which run fintech apps and also act as channels to find and interact with users. For instance, several of our startups use WhatsApp to offer customer support and drive virality, communicating with users in the way they prefer. Smartphones can also be used to generate and capture user data, which is particularly valuable when targeting low-income consumers who traditionally have been anonymous. In that vein, our portfolio company Smile Identity validates and authenticates customer identities using selfies taken on their phones.


In addition machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems can improve customer value propositions and to automate internal processes like credit scoring using data from smartphones and other new sources like satellites. As an example, our portfolio company ToGarantido is exploring chatbots for sales of their insurance policies and customer support. Harvesting is using satellite data to understand credit and insurance risk with just a GPS read. Worldcover doesn’t even need customers to file a claim as their satellite systems award them automatically.


And software engineering helped Escala and Paygo Energy to automate most of their back-office processes to be responsive to their customers. It is easier and more affordable than ever for startups to leverage affordable SaaS solutions to architect their systems. Likewise, cloud computing is also a powerful technology that offers simplicity, lower costs and flexibility. There is no need to commit capital to purchase hardware and the team requires less engineering talent to keep the servers going.

Conclusion

In our experience, companies that harness the powerful combination of design, product management and modern technologies create better and more tailored value propositions. That makes for happier customers, which is what makes businesses thrive. By driving more usage, the fintech triad can create more impact in low-income populations. And digital channels and automated processes can significantly lower costs of serving customers, allowing for expansion to new markets and reducing exclusion.


Learn more by joining us for our webinar on the Catalyst Fund toolkits during the ANDE Sector Update call in January. Register here.


Tags:  Acceleration  accelerator  accelerators  Africa  ANDE Africa  Base of the Pyramid  brazil  Business Models  capacity development  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  entrepreneurship  finance  financial inclusion  fintech  Grants Rockefeller  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive innovation  India  India; ANDE members  innovation  Kenya  Latin America  mentoring  Mexico  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  smaholder farmers  smes  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social innovation  webinar  West Africa 

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MIF Awards 2018: Applications closing in 1 week!

Posted By Chandrakant Komaragiri, Ennovent, Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Ennovent is supporting Marico Innovation Foundation Awards 2018 – one of the largest platforms for recognizing and showcasing best of Indian Innovation. Helping them to recognize innovations for both ‘for Profit ‘and ‘Not for Profit’ social organizations.
 
Any organization which is beyond the prototype stage and has contributed to the innovation space in the last 6 years is eligible to apply. The innovation could be the work of one person, a few people, a large team or a department.
 
You can fill the application using the online form. Here is offline form for your reference. 

Given your presence and connect with enterprises and entrepreneurs, we seek your support in identifying potential participants. 
 
Could you suggest the awards to the entrepreneurs, and startups in your networks? It would be great if you could refer the organizations from your network and we could follow up with them.

In case you have any queries or issues, please feel free to reach out to us at aditi.chawla@ennovent.com. 

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Tags:  inclusive business  India  innovation  larger SMEs  social enterprise  social innovation  sustainability 

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Toilet Accelerator India Edition Challenge - open for applications until 10th July!

Posted By Claire Balbo, Toilet Board Coalition, Tuesday, June 20, 2017
 
Do you have a business or business idea for toilet innovations and service models, circular economy waste management and resource recovery, or mobile, digital and e-heath applications for sanitation in India?

Apply for over 100,000 Euro in support from global brand companies by 10 July 2017!

APPLY HERE!
The Toilet Accelerator India Edition challenge calls for applications from businesses that are addressing the most challenging water and sanitation issues in the country. 
Top 3 winners will be announced at the 9th Sankalp Global Summit from 6-8 December, 2017 in Mumbai. The winners will receive over 100,000 Euro of in-kind support from leading companies over a 12 month period, as part of the 2018 Toilet Accelerator cohort of the Swiss based Toilet Board Coalition. The Toilet Accelerator Program provides expert mentorship and support, as well as access to the TBC-Sankalp investor networks. The Toilet Board Coalition is supported by some of the largest multinational corporates like Firmenich, Lixil, Kimberly-Clark and Unilever.  

THE ACCELERATE INDIA SANITATION BUSINESS CHALLENGE IS OPEN UNTIL 10 JULY 2017
The Toilet Board Coalition brings together experts from business, investment, and the global sanitation community through our platform to cross-fertilise experiences, innovate at all levels, and catalyse the growth of profitable sanitation businesses that deliver sanitation to all.  The Toilet Accelerator is a corporate accelerator program to facilitate private sector engagement and mentorship to sanitation businesses and entrepreneurs serving low-income markets. For more information on the Toilet Board Coalition, please visit the website.
Sankalp Forum is one of the largest platforms promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in emerging markets and building the ecosystem for business-led inclusive development. Over the past nine years, Sankalp has showcased over 400 sustainable enterprises across India, Africa and Southeast Asia, enabled 500+ mentoring connections and facilitated over USD 240Mn of equity investments. For more information on Sankalp Forum, please visit the website.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by contacting Claire Balbo: balbo@toiletboard.org
#WeCantWait to know about your business!!

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Tags:  entrepreneurship  India  sanitation  Sankalp  SDGs  SGBs  SMEs  social entrepreneurship  sustainability 

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Ennovent invests in Bengaluru-based Hasiru Dala Innovations

Posted By Aditi Natarajan, Ennovent, Tuesday, April 18, 2017

 

Ennovent’s Impact Investment Holding (IIH) has invested an undisclosed amount in Bengaluru-based Hasiru Dala Innovations Private Limited. The company was incubated earlier by the Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE), a Tata Trusts initiative. This is the sixth investment made by Ennovent’s Impact Investment Holding.

Hasiru Dala Innovations is a for-benefit, not-for-loss social enterprise that is dedicated to creating reliable and sustainable livelihoods for wastepickers through innovative, circular-economy centric businesses (www.hasirudalainnovations.com). It currently offers total waste management services for the responsible bulk waste generator, event waste management services for the eco-friendly host and easy to use home composter kits for the environmentally conscious. The enterprise therefore focuses on social impact through livelihood creation for waste pickers and environmental conservation by diverting waste away from landfills and processing it usefully .The company was co-founded by Nalini Shekar, Shekar Prabhakar and Marwan Abubaker in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru generates a reported 3500-4000 tonnes of waste everyday, which has led to overflowing, closed landfills and illegal dumping of waste in open landfills. This has created an enormous strain on urban local bodies, which are unable to cope with the mounting levels of waste and the consequent environmental and civic fallout. Further, the lives of the city’s 25000-30000 waste pickers who deal with this issue on a daily basis is deplorable- harassed by citizens and the police alike, with unpredictable livelihoods and no social security, they have an average life expectancy of 39 years.

Hasiru Dala was started in 2013 as a non-government organisation (NGO) with the aim of integrating waste pickers into the city’s solid waste management system. Since its inception, it has worked towards improving the working conditions of thousands of workers in the informal economy, including waste pickers, sorters and itinerant waste buyers. Hasiru Dala focuses on social justice issues covering social security, identity, dignity of labour, healthcare, education and affordable housing through policy advocacy, grassroots mobilization and leveraging assistance provided by the state and central governments and other relevant institutions.

Since its inception, Hasiru Dala has created over 800 full and part-time jobs and impacted over 22,000 households which now have access to better waste management services. Both organisations put together manage over 40 tonnes of waste every day.

With this investment, Hasiru Dala Innovations plans to expand its operations in Bengaluru and invest in technology in order to streamline its operational processes. It will also use the funding to improve on its service offerings, which currently include solid waste management, urban gardening services, waste management services for events and home composting kits. The investment will be also be used to scale up Hasiru Dala Innovations’ reach and impact within Bengaluru, as well as expand its services to other cities in India.

The contribution that Hasiru Dala Innovations makes to enhancing the lives of waste pickers is the primary reason for the investment. This is because the organisation’s impact is not just limited to their working lives but also to their holistic growth (through health, banking and insurance facilities) and the lives of their children through educational loans and scholarships,

Speaking about the investment, Joel Rodrigues, Senior Manager – Finance Services at Ennovent said “The problem of inefficient solid waste management in urban areas can be solved by using technology and formally integrating waste pickers into the city’s solid waste management system. Ennovent Impact Investment Holding is optimistic about the impact Hasiru Dala Innovations will have in delivering waste management services to urban households while improving the lives of waste pickers.”

Shekar Prabhakar, Managing Director, Hasiru Dala said “Hasiru Dala Innovations is delighted to have Ennovent Impact Investment Holding partner with us on this journey. It is heartening to have impact investors like Ennovent recognize that social enterprises like ours are trying to maximize social impact while keeping the business viable and sustainable. We hope to not just transform waste picker lives but professionalize and set benchmarks in every business that we are in. We look forward to Ennovent’s continued support in realizing our vision of a just, opportunity-rich world for waste pickers.”

Tags:  entrepreneurship  Environment  impact investing  India  sanitation  social entrepreneurship 

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Connect talents with social ventures

Posted By Tom Kagerer, LGT Impact, Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dear ANDE members,

I am reaching out to ask for your kind support to spread the word widely.

Last week, LGT Venture Philanthropy opened applications for the ICats Fellowship Program 2016. In this program, we seek professionals with minimum 2 years of work experience who are keen to work on-site with award winning social entrepreneurs (e.g. Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship) from our global portfolio, for 11-months starting January 2016.

Application deadline is 31st of August 2015.

I have attached a factsheet which you could forward to your network. Or spread the word through your social media channels using the following snippets:

Twitter: Professionals eager to create social impact?Apply now to @LGTVP ICats bit.ly/1MzCmnT and work with award winning #socent #fellowship

Facebook/LinkedIn: For professionals who are eager to create social impact - call for applications for the LGT Venture Philanthropy ICats Fellowship 2016. ICats have the opportunity to work with LGT VP and its award winning portfolio organizations (www.skollfoundation.org/skoll-foundation-announces-2015-skoll-awards-for-social-entrepreneurship). #socent Apply now: lgtvp.com/fellowship

Your support is highly appreciated.

Tom

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Tags:  capacity development  China  East Africa  fellowship  Human Capital  India  Latin America  Social Entrepreneurship  South Africa  Southeast Asia  talent 

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New Report: Impact Investors See India's Social Entrepreneurs Lacking Basic Financial Management Skills To Be Investable

Posted By Upaya Social Ventures, Thursday, May 14, 2015

Over the past four years, the Upaya team has repeatedly heard from impact investors that the pipeline of investable social enterprises in India is frustratingly thin. While these investors regularly hear about interesting concepts, they lament the lack of entrepreneurs who have the business management skills needed to lead such a venture to profitability. In fact, many leading investors have said that a social entrepreneur who does not have a sufficient command of fundamental business tools is not someone they can even really consider an entrepreneur.

Looking to turn these anecdotes into actionable information, Upaya is today releasing the first of a series of spot surveys that dig deeper into investors’ impressions of the entrepreneurs they encounter.

Titled What They Really Think: Perceptions of India’s Early Stage Social Entrepreneurs Among Impact Investors, the series provides data and recommendations to the multitude of incubators, training programs and mentorship networks currently operating in India. The report captures investor opinions about the collective critical skills and competencies of entrepreneurs, and starts a substantive conversation on improving the ecosystem for early-stage social businesses.

In “Spot Survey #1: Financial Management Capabilities,” 18 of India’s 25 most active impact investors shared their impressions of the financial management competencies of entrepreneurs they have conducted some level of due diligence on. The report looks at entrepreneurs' skills in utilizing a variety of financial management tools for decision-making. It also looks at the quality of documentation investors receive from entrepreneurs, as well as the ability of those entrepreneurs to use valuation tools to communicate the financial health and long-term projections of their companies with investors.

Click to download the report.

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Tags:  accelerators  early stage ecosystem  Entrepreneurship  impact investing  Incubation  India  Philanthropy  Pioneering Capital  social business  Social Entrepreneurship  Upaya Social Ventures 

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