ennovent Accepting Applications And Nominations for Two Challenges In Social Innovation

By Will Sloan|25th Oct 2012
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ennovent is currently accepting applications and nominations for two challenges aimed at discovering and nurturing enterprises and innovations with a social impact. ennovent, an organization dedicated to accelerating such innovations, operates through three basic platforms: Discover, Finance, and Scale. Each platform combines interactive forums with ennovent’s own databases and resources to provide services designed specifically to help startups in those three key areas.

Through the Scale platform, for instance, ennovent connects social enterprises with its extensive network of experts, and allows entrepreneurs and innovators to post specific requests for services needed to help them scale their enterprise. Through Finance, ennovent not only offers a crowdsourcing platform but also connects innovators with its own network of impact investors and utilizes its impact investment portfolio to provide early stage funding and equity needed to get businesses off the ground.

The Discover platform is a combination of an entrepreneur directory, an interactive forum, and challenges that promote the discovery and development of social innovations. Various institutions organize these challenges and team with ennovent, which serves in some cases as a supporting partner or sponsor, in other cases as a means of outreach through their online platform. Currently, ennovent is accepting applications for the Millennium Alliance Challenge for sustainable and scalable innovations with a development impact in India, and the Power to Empower challenge for skill building enterprises in India.


For the Power to Empower competition, ennovent has partnered with India@75 and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), a public-private partnership (PPP) that promotes skill development by fostering sustainable vocational training enterprises. To be eligible for this challenge, an enterprise should focus on imparting a specific skill or skillset to its clients or employees. The organization should also be scalable, sustainable, should target the bottom of the pyramid population in India, and produce a significant impact. Applications and nominations for the Power to Empower competition are open until November 1, 2012.

“There are a lot of opportunities for short listed entrepreneurs to get the support from NSDC, and along with NSDC we’re involving a lot of other investors, ennovent investors, etc.,” said Digbijoy Shukla, Director of the ennovent Impact Circle. “These investors will be evaluating ventures not just from an investment perspective but will actually be getting involved in mentoring and acceleration. Its actually the process of mentoring from November onward when entrepreneurs start getting opportunities for attracting investors, meeting with entrepreneurs, industry leaders, things like that, and that is one of the key value adds of the program.”

The second challenge is being organized and directed by Millennium Alliance, an award under the leadership of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and in partnership with USAID and the Technology Development Board, which seeks to discover and nurture innovative solutions to development across India.

“The initiative is very interesting,” explained Digbijoy. “It’s a very broad based challenge, looking at innovations that are solving problems, between healthcare, to agriculture, to education, etc. This is a much broader challenge in that sense. The main focus is to discover, support, and finance the innovations that are happening at the grass roots level and the innovations that are actually affecting the people they target.”

The Millenium Alliance award is organized into two stages, during which winners will receive funding directed at bringing their innovation to fruition. Stage 1 funding is given to establish proof of concept and viability, and typically ranges from Rs. 25,00,000 to Rs. 50,00,000. Stage 2 funding will be geared toward testing innovations at scale and providing tools to assess the development impact of these innovations, and will typically range from Rs. 2,50,00,000 to Rs. 3,75,00,000. In both cases, the size of funding as well as its structure (grant, debt, equity, or some combination) is subject to the judgment of the Evaluation Committee. Applications and nominations for the challenge are open to for-profit, non-profit, and private individuals until.

There is no doubt that the Indian entrepreneurial landscape is rife with potential for social innovation, but the lack of support and visibility and limited attention from investors often hinders its ability to manifest. ennovent’s efforts to reverse this trend are compounded by the discover challenges it supports. Despite the variance in eligibility criteria, these challenges maintain a common goal to discover and accelerate social innovations across India and to catalyze their potential for development impact.

Want to apply or nominate someone for a social innovation challenge?

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