Dasra Grants $800,000 to Six Organizations Supporting Social Businesses in India

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Omidyar Network and The Rockefeller Foundation provide support to Dasra for the Impact Economy Innovations Fund,  IIMA-CIIE, Intellecap, Samhita, Social Story, UnLtd India and Villgrow in the IEIF Grant

INDIACSR News Network

MUMBAI: Leading strategic philanthropy foundation, Dasra, announced the $800,000 Impact Economy Innovations Fund (IEIF) grant award to six organizations building the ecosystem for impact investing in India. Launched in January 2013, the IEIF grant, a path-breaking initiative by Omidyar Network and The Rockefeller Foundation is administered in India by Dasra. The grant aims to build stronger infrastructure for the fast growing impact investing industry in India that can provide scalable and sustainable solutions to help the 600 million people living in poverty in India.

Chosen from a competitive pool of 120 applicants, the winners provide a spectrum of services to social entrepreneurs, investors and other players finding business solutions to India’s massive development problems.

Despite success stories, impact investing in India is grappling with lack of infrastructure, financing and policy support. “If the impact investing industry wants to grow both in depth and scope so as to provide individuals with alternative and innovative financial access, then we need to focus on building the ecosystem to impact the lives of the poor or vulnerable” said Rehana Nathoo, Program Associate, The Rockefeller Foundation. “The IEIF grant is a step in that direction. Apart from India, we have helped to grow that ecosystem and overall access and knowledge about impact investing in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America”, she added.

An eminent jury of social and business leaders evaluated the applications in India to shortlist the most innovative, impactful and scalable ideas for the IEIF grant. “The applications spanned across a variety of areas, ranging from unlocking domestic capital, actively supporting the creation of incubators, to advocacy and industry governance.” said Natasha Oza, Director, Dasra.

Eric Savage, Co-Founder and President, Unitus Capital, jury member of the IEIF grant said, “The grant selection process was highly competitive and has identified some amazing proposals to support.  The impact of these grants will be very profound in terms of catalyzing new initiatives.”

Till date, majority of the investments into social businesses in India have come from foreign funds and individuals. Increasing the flow of Indian capital to social businesses is key for the success of this industry. Jury member Anuradha Ramachandran, Director, Investments, Omidyar Network India Advisors, said “India is the epicentre for impact investing. At Omidyar Network, we are focused on building a resilient and vibrant ecosystem that will unleash the potential of our entrepreneurs, and spur the creation of innovative, large-scale and sustainable organizations. The IEIF grant is one of our several initiatives towards this purpose”.

Samhita and IIMA- CIIE ( Indian Institute of Ahmedabad- Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship) that won the grant in the category of ‘unlocking domestic capital for impact investing’ have innovative approaches to direct resources from corporates and high net worth individuals to social businesses in India.

In addition to funding, the IEIF grant will help provide mentorship to entrepreneurs and empower them through collaborative learning and networking platforms. Social Story, a media platform that nurtures social entrepreneurship, will help provide more information and visibility to entrepreneurs. Winners such as Villgro and UnLtd India that provide a suite of financial and non-financial services to entrepreneurs will expand to smaller cities across India. Jury member, Poornima Dore, Program Officer, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust said, “There is a need to stimulate employment and enterprise development in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India. Research finds that cities and states that have embraced entrepreneurship have created more jobs and experienced higher regional growth”.

Policy level support to the impact investing industry is another critical area that the grant focused on. “Since impact investing is still in its nascent stages in India, it is critical to have a policy framework for disciplined and sustainable growth of this industry. Intellecap is setting up an industry body for impact investors that will help to strengthen the policy and governance structure needed in the industry. ” said Jury member, Chinmay Sengupta, Chief Operating Officer, ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth.

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