Tag Archives: Aavishkaar

Welcome to Sankalp-Unconvention 2013- the Davos of the social entrepreneurship world.

sankalp
Courtesy: Sankalp website

First they were two. Then they became one. Sankalp-Unconvention Summit 2013 (SUS2013), the union of two of India’s biggest social entrepreneurship conferences into one mega event, is two weeks away. It will be held from April 17-18, at Hotel Renaissance, Powai, Mumbai.

Sankalp and Unconvention were both started in 2009 and have blossomed into events that bring together social entrepreneurs, investors, academics, foundations and other stakeholders. Sankalp, touted as Asia’s largest social enterprise conference began in 2009. It is the brainchild of Intellecap, a Mumbai-based company that provides investment banking, business consulting and knowledge service solutions for social enterprises. Unconvention, which debuted in the same year as Sankalp, began with a similar agenda of bridging the world of entrepreneurs and investors. Villgro, one of the pioneers in the social enterprise is behind Unconvention.

The organizers of SUS2013 claim that it’s the largest social enterprise focused conference globally with over 1000 entrepreneurs, investors, donors, policy makers and other stakeholders expected over three days. Speakers this year include Bala Deshpande, senior managing director of New Enterprise Associates India (NEA), Jayant Sinha, managing director of Omidyar Network India Advisors, Watanan Petersk, director, Lien Centre for Social Innovation and chair, Ashoka Singapore Advisory Council, Afeefa Sayeed, senior advisor, US Agency for International Aid (USAID) and Jayesh Parekh, co-founder of Sony Entertainment Television.

The theme for this year is Looking Beyond Impact: Seeking Transformational Change.’ SUS2013 will dwell on the fact that while metrics for measuring impact are important, are they also, in some ways restrictive? Does the industry gun for scale and replication or does it pause to refine the strategies and tools that currently in operation? Have the lives of individuals at the bottom of the pyramid really been positively impacted? Difficult questions to be answered in just two days perhaps, but SUS2013 will open up a debate on how social entrepreneurship will play out in the next few years in India.

If you haven’t registered yet, do it here. You can catch all the updates on Facebook.

Lack of quality social enterprises is the issue and not supply of capital: Omidayar Network’s Jayant Sinha

According to Omidyar Network’s (ON) India head, Jayant Sinha for India’s fledgling social entrepreneurship industry, the problem is not the availability of capital, but the dearth of quality social enterprises (socents) to be invested in. “Capital is available in plenty, what we need is high-quality enterprises to invest in where the founders have the right credentials,” said Sinha at the sidelines of a press conference in Bangalore to announce a new investment in Kolkata-based iMerit Technology Services, an IT enabled services company that trains and hires youth from small towns and cities.

ON founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s is a venture philanthropic fund, that has invested about $113 million (roughly Rs 612 crore), in 35 companies in India, since its inception in 2010. “At the rate we are investing we should invest another $100-200 million in the next 3-5 years,” added Sinha.

ON, which has a sector-based approach to impact investing, mainly invests in social enterprises (socents) or non-profits. In India, 45 per cent of its investments have been into non-profits, while the remainder has been pumped into socents. The sectors that ON invests are consumer internet and mobile, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, government transparency and traditional philanthropy.

Non-profit investees include Bangalore-based Akshara Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on elementary education, which received a $950,000 grant last year and Anudip Foundation, which focuses on creating livelihoods for disadvantaged youth. ON’s socent portfolio include energy platform company Agni Energy, classifieds firm Quikr, and Vistaar Technologies, which promotes financial inclusion.

Things are hotting up in the social enterprise (socent) investment space in India. Other venture funds with a focus on socents include Khosla Labs, Gray Matters Capital, Aavishkaar, Acumen Fund and Oasis Fund. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that there is close a billion dollars to be invested in socents. The Indian government has plans to invest another $1 billion.

And so, it begins.

The beginning.

kite

Courtesy: http://www.freefoto.com

India is often referred to as a laboratory for social entrepreneurship, where innovation is brewing, and new products and services are being dished out thick and fast. Things are looking up after the doom and gloom post the 2007-08 recession and the micro-finance controversy that rocked the industry in 2010.

There are a lot of social enterprise focused VCs that are chasing deals at present. The trend in social investing started in the mid-2000s with VCs like Acumen Fund and Aavishkaar Venture Fund, and more have followed suit like Omidyar Network, Khosla Labs and India Social Fund (ISF). Now, there maybe close to a billion dollars chasing SE investment. These social VCs have been buoyed by SEs that are growing in scale and revenues, and even providing successful exits. Aavishkaar, which was started in 2001, has had a few exits, these include Rangsutra, an artisan-owned handicrafts company, Servals Automation, a rural energy solutions provider and Shree Kamdhenu Electronics, an electronic milk collection services company. According to the Intellecap SE study, most of the investments are bunched up around agriculture, education, healthcare and energy.

The industry requires talent; and that is being supplied by institutions, like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), some of the IIMs, ISB and many other B-schools. The government too has recognized the huge potential SEs have in tackling age-old problems related to education, healthcare, agriculture, energy, water and sanitation. In January, 2013, Sam Pitroda, chairman for the National Innovation Council, announced a $1 billion fund to invest in enterprises that tackle problems at bottom of the pyramid.

But more is needed: attracting top talent, encouraging the growth of impact investing as an investment vehicle, an exchange purely for SEs to raise capital like Singapore’s IIX and less regulation and more incentives from the government.

From its first baby steps, the SE industry is ready for its next jump into adolescence and adulthood.

Billionbulbs will track this journey.