Hundreds of social enterprises in eight low-income states will receive funding and incubation services to develop and scale innovative and sustainable solutions that address problems faced by India’s poorest communities.
Innovative Ventures and Technologies for Development (INVENT) is an ambitious program, launched by Technology Development Board (TDB) with support from Department for International Development (DFID), that will support more than 150 early-stage social enterprises over three years and make at least 50 of those investable in that time.
The programme will be implemented in eight low-income states – Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal, and it will be executed by four incubators – Startup Oasis from Jaipur (executing in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh), KIIT-Bhubaneswar (focusing on Odisha and Jharkhand), IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP) (West Bengal and Bihar) and SIDBI Innovation & Incubation Centre (SIIC), IIT Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh). The programme will be managed by social enterprise incubator Villgro Innovations Foundation (Villgro), through whom the four incubators in these states will be given support.
India’s growth has been uneven and around 21% of Indians – over 270 million people – still live in poverty. There is an increased realisation that the challenges faced by the poor demand engagement from all sectors, and a growing understanding that inclusive growth is critical to create an equitable society and to prevent the build-up of social pressures.
Innovation-led entrepreneurship, given an impetus by the government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign, has the potential to reduce poverty at scale as the emphasis is on affordability, sustainability, reach and scalability. INVENT seeks to strengthen this movement in the states where it is needed most, by supporting incubators to support innovative technological and entrepreneurial solutions to benefit the poor as producers, consumers, employees and suppliers.
The programme is designed to create a platform to provide incubation support to early stage social enterprises. Such support would include funding, dedicated and intense mentoring, capacity building programs and knowledge products, access to facilities and relevant networks. Upon successful completion of the incubation program, the social enterprise may also get the opportunity to raise further downstream investments.