Twenty social enterprises were awarded grants totaling $2 million by the India Development Marketplace (DM) funded by the World Bank Group (WBG). The grantees received $100,000 each to extend and scale up their innovative business models in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. A number of financial institutions, social entrepreneurs, investors and government officials participated at the India DM event organized to showcase these development solutions to the problems of the most vulnerable people.
Through its India Development Marketplace initiative, the World Bank Group has identified scalable, replicable and financially sustainable projects for support. The call for proposals was launched in January and received nearly 200 proposals from organizations already operating in these three states, as well as from across the country. These organizations have developed business models to expand access to basic services such as livelihood and employment, education, women and child welfare, agriculture, energy, healthcare and financial services.
Of the 20 selected enterprises in 2013, over 40% demonstrate innovative business models to support and empower women living in low-income states. Other enterprises recognized include initiatives that improve access to affordable healthcare for families; that increase the earning potential of families, while engaging in livelihoods that are supportive of improving the local environment; and, organizations that leverage and apply technology in new ways to improve the delivery of key social, health and education services to underserved populations.
In addition, the DM provides an opportunity to understand what works – how and under what conditions – in an effort to surface and invest in models that best meet the needs of poor communities.
“The World Bank Group is committed to supporting innovative models and programs that support underserved communities, particularly in low-income states. The DM provides an opportunity to understand what works and under what conditions as a means to improve services to the poor,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India. “I recently visited one of our DM winners from last year which is crossing the proverbial last-mile by bringing regular medicines and the hope of a healthy life to TB patients. The DM is a platform that is aimed at bridging the gap between intention and implementation by helping development practitioners replicate successful pilots,” he added.
In 2011, the DM awarded grants to 14 high performing organizations in Rajasthan, Odisha and Bihar. Through the provision of capacity building services, the WBG has been able to assist in their organizational development. Today, these grassroots organizations are demonstrating strong results in assisting the poor. In addition, key lessons learnt working with these enterprises have included their challenges of scaling and accessing growth capital. These constraints are an important focus for the India DM 2013 program.
“Linking early-stage enterprises to next-stage financing through grant support and advisory services is important for the growth of emerging social enterprises in India. This year, too, the IDM will support grassroots organizations to refine and build their business models to ensure sustainable impact over the long term,” said Anil Sinha, Regional Head South Asia Advisory Services, International Finance Corporation.
Over the past four months, eminent industry experts reviewed the shortlisted proposals on parameters including social impact, sustainability, growth potential, and innovation. The social enterprises that made their way to the top of 2013 India Development Marketplace went through extensive due diligence and evaluation for their demonstrated projects.
“Not only do we seek to support these business models going to scale and strengthening a broader social enterprise ecosystem, said Drew von Glahn, Team Leader of the Development Marketplace program, “We are also keen to learn from these organizations – from these management teams – as to potential new mechanisms and business models that can increase the reach to these disenfranchised communities. This is consistent with the WGB’s new goals to surface and support what works to end poverty and promote shared prosperity.”
In order to accelerate the impact of these organizations, the WBG will provide capacity building support services over the next 18 months. They will undergo business mentoring, and receive technical assistance in such areas as business development, financial management and strategic planning. Building on the partnership that it has established with Innovation Alchemy, a Bangalore-based firm focused on supporting social enterprises, the DM will also help these enterprises identify additional local partners to expand their reach and sustainability. In addition, the IFC continues to be an important strategic partner, bringing its keen focus on working with the private sector to support financially viable business models.
In addition to the direct impact that each of these organizations can have through the delivery of their services to marginalized society, the WBG will evaluate these service and delivery models – assessing the successes, and challenges, in reaching the traditionally underserved.
Past DM grantees include such organizations as Selco Solar, which provides sustainable and affordable energy to underserved households and livelihoods; Educate Girls – working in the Pali and Jalore districts to expand access to education for young girls; Bihar Development Trust – providing market access to rural women artisan groups; and Babajobs – using technology to provide better job opportunities to the informal job sector. One of the DM 2011 grantees, Operation ASHA – which works on TB eradication – has taken their program global and is now working in four countries.