India has an active incubation and impact investment community that has spawned some amazing social enterprises whom we see and hear about today. With a continuously expanding social sector in India, incubators and impact investors are instrumental in shaping raw ideas into sustainable impact ventures.
Recently, I spoke to Deshpande Foundation, one of the leading social incubators in the country. During the course of my research on incubators, I got a chance to interact with Ullas Marar, Head of Scouting and Inspiration at Villgro.
Backed by Ashoka and Rockefeller Foundation, Villgro was founded in 2001 to mentor and incubate social enterprises. Over the last 15 years, Villgro has backed 119 innovators, raised over INR 1195 Million worth of investments, mentored well-known social enterprises like Sustain Earth and Krishi Star, ultimately impacting over 15 million lives.
During the interaction, Ullas spoke about what Villgro expects from their incubatees, the scenario of impact investment in India and expressed his honest opinion about why social enterprises should not get carried away by their ‘changemaker’ status.
Some excerpts from the Hangout:
The level of immersion dictates their understanding of the problem and the solution that they have created
We also look at how mentionable an entrepreneur is
Every enterprise has a separate set of impact parameters
We spend a lot of time with the incubates and device metrics for them
Funding is not a big challenge in India, but the idea has to merit that kind of funding requirement
An entrepreneur needs a 3 AM friend. That’s how we have structured our mentorship program
If an entrepreneur comes to us, we want to see what effort has already gone in
Entrepreneurs should have gone, lived with the beneficiaries, understood their behaviour
People think that they need a business plan, but that’s not true
As I heard at a recent panel discussion – Just because you are a social enterprise, you can’t expect yourself to keep getting grant money from year 5 of your operations
Here’s the full Hangout: