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Can agri-based start-ups transform the rural economy?
Deborah Keller, Can agri-based start-ups transform the rural economy? 04 Jul 2017
Deborah Keller, 04 Jul 2017

Calling social entrepreneurs - Apply for UnLtd India's incubation support


UnLtd's Fellowship levels are tailored to provide the most value to the entrepreneur:

Test & Build – For an entrepreneur who has done basic research and is at an idea/pilot stage, or has created some impact on-ground and is now strengthening the organisation

Growth Challenge – For an entrepreneur who has a proven model, delivers consistent evidence of impact and is now preparing to scale

UnLtd is looking for:
• A socially motivated individual open to receiving capacity building support
• An organization that is 0-5 years old
• A non-profit, social enterprise or hybrid model

Apply Now

Application deadline is 15th March 2017

Applications from all sectors are invited. UnLtd also currently has sector specific programs for agriculture and skill development.

Support from UnLtd India is subject to the organisation’s stage of operations and the entrepreneur’s location.
For any questions, kindly email or call them on 022 2643 4351.

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Upaya Launches New 2017 Accelerator Program

Since 2011, Upaya Social Ventures has invested in 12 companies that have created over 4,000 jobs for the poorest of the poor. Now, Upaya announces the launch of an accelerator program for social enterprises focused on creating jobs for the poorest communities in India.

With their first program, Upaya is interested in supporting ventures that are creating formal sector job opportunities for the informal sector workforce.

What entrepreneurs get from the program:
• Participants who successfully complete the program will be eligible for investment from Upaya and other investors.
• Each entrepreneur will be assigned a mentor who will coach the company over a 6-month timeframe.
• Participants will take part in three week-long workshops that give them an opportunity to interact with industry experts on topics such as market strategy, financial planning, unit economics, governance, and presentation skills.

Entrepreneurs will graduate from the program armed with a refined business plan, pitch deck, and a roadmap to further build out their businesses.

The deadline to apply is 15 February for a program that will run from April - September 2017.

Entrepreneurs that are best suited for Upaya's first program theme will have the following:
• A services-based business model that provides job placement, organized sector benefits and skilling opportunities to manpower sourced from the poorest of the poor communities
• For-profit, early-stage ventures that have already started generating revenue
• Limited (less than INR 50 lakhs) or no institutional funding received
• A strong commitment to creating jobs for the poorest communities in India, now and in the future

Eligible entrepreneurs may learn more and apply here.


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HUL sends mid-level executives to work at startups

According to an article by The Economic Times, Hindustan Unilever is exploring news ways in fostering "an entrepreneurial mindset and agility among key employees".  India's largest consumer product company plans to send some of its mid-level executives to work at startups for three months to two years. Staff staying away for up to one year under this so called "Entrepreneurial Immersion and Secondment initiative" are reported to stay on HUL's payroll, while the cost of the employees staying longer than a year are shared by the company and the startups.

BP Biddappa, executive director for HR, sees in this programme "an opportunity for leader to experience different business models and instil an end-to-end mindset". He further emphasizes that HUL wants "people to be entrepreneurial as they work in a large company - not to take resources or infrastructure for granted, but to approach everything with an owner's mindest."

The startups for the programme are initially selected from Unilevers Venture portfolio. Unilever Ventures was launched in 2011 and has since then made strategic investments in private equity and venture capital funds in the consumer and digital space.

Read the full article here.

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Funding competition: technology solutions for society in India

Innovate UK is investing up to £1.6 million for projects that use cutting-edge solutions to enhance healthcare, clean technology and infrastructure in India.

The aim of this competition is to encourage innovative partnerships between the UK and India. Innovate UK and the Indian government are funding this competition, administered by the Newton Fund.

Projects should address one or more of the following societal challenges:
- clean technology
- affordable healthcare
- electronic system design and manufacture (ESDM) technology solutions for urban, energy, healthcare, infrastructure, disaster management and environmental challenges

Innovate UK expects projects to range in size from total costs of £350,000 to £450,000 in the UK. Projects should last between 12 and 24 months.

If you are a UK business, you can carry out the project as the only UK partner or you can work with others. However, at least one partner must be an Indian business. A UK business must lead the project.

Click here for more details. Click here for online registration and application.

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Access to funds emerges as a major challenge for business leaders seeking to do good

Read why access to investment is still perceived as one of the major challenges for social entrepreneurs according to a poll conducted by The Thomson Reuters Foundation and why India is surprisingly one of the countries where it is easiest to access investment, ranked 5th behind Canada, Singapore, the US and Belgium.

Find the full article here.





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Changing the world for girls? Start in India

"If you are a social entrepreneur with ambition, you want to work in a country where your efforts can have a huge incremental effect.  If you want to change the world for girls, then India has to be where you start." (Safeena Husain, Executive Director and Founder of Educate Girls)

Read the full story about Safeena Husain and her company Educate Girls which has enrolled 120,000 girls into goverment schools in some of the worst gender gap districts in India.

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Agriculture Products

Villgro incubates agri start-up GRoboMac

Villgro announces a new addition to their investment and incubation portfolio - GRoboMac (Green Robot Machinery Private Limited), a social enterprise that develops farm robotics for harvesting farm produce. The company is currently developing a cotton-picking machine that will be bought by large farmers or FAAS (Farming As A Service Companies), who will rent it out to smaller cotton farmers for harvesting cotton.

Agriculture in India is primarily dependent on manual labour; however, according to a FICCI study between 2004-05 and 2011-12 the agricultural workforce has reduced by 30.57 million people.

Started in 2014, GRoboMac is working to mechanize farm tasks by building smart machinery using 3D vision technology and robotics. The company's first product is a cotton-picking machine that aims at reducing drudgery and dependency on farm labour while maintaining the quality and speed of human picking. Non-availability of farm labour is the single biggest deterrent for farmers to grow cotton, although cotton is a profitable cash crop.

Read more here and here.

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