Social venture incubator UnLtd India plans expansion: Here's how you can be part of it
Pooja Taparia is a designer by training, but found herself spending an increasing amount of her free time supporting victims of child sexual abuse. She wanted to start her own NGO and focus on treating and preventing child sexual abuse fulltime, but felt that she lacked the skills necessary to run her own organization; that changed when she became an UnLtd India investee. “Going into this, I had no management experience; I didn’t know how to run an organization. That’s where UnLtd India’s support has been invaluable,” she explains. Since starting Arpan in 2006, Pooja now has 30 employees and has directly impacted the lives of 25,000 people.
Pooja’s experience is typical of how UnLtd India has been helping people since it was founded in 2007—supporting entrepreneurs with ideas that promise to bring about positive social change in India. Through financial support, as well as coaching, training, and leadership development, UnLtd India has supported more than 110 social ventures in the state of Maharashtra—impacting more than 600,000 people. But for UnLtd India, Maharashtra is just the beginning.
With support from UnLtd India, veteran entrepreneurs Gijs Spoor and Raj Janagram recently launched the first UnLtd India affiliates—UnLtd Tamil Nadu and UnLtd Hyderabad, to bring much needed support to change-makers in those areas. For Spoor and Janagram, being agents for large-scale social change is hardly new. Before starting UnLtd Tamil Nadu, Spoor and his company Zameen Organics helped more than 15,000 farmers improve their livelihoods by going organic and reaching higher-value markets. But Spoor felt like he could do more. “15,000 sounds like a lot but in a place like India, it’s really nothing. I wanted to reach more people, so I started working with UnLtd India,” remarks Spoor.
Like Spoor, Janagram, is a seasoned social entrepreneur, with a passion for helping others. Before starting UnLtd Hyderabad, Raj co-founded Cycle Chalao! India’s first bicycle sharing system, and was an UnLtd Investee. “As an investee, I experienced first hand UnLtd India’s support and saw the impact that it had on my venture and my development as a leader. I realized that I was in a unique position to help other social entrepreneurs succeed in Andhra Pradesh so I teamed up with UnLtd India to launch an affiliate,” remarks Janagram.
As affiliates, UnLtd Tamil Nadu and UnLtd Hyderabad are locally-owned entities that use UnLtd India’s model of incubation support to find, fund, and support early-stage change makers in their regions. After spending six months piloting the UnLtd India model in their communities, UnLtd Tamil Nadu and UnLtd Hyderabad have launched as full affiliates, selecting inaugural classes of 10 investees, all of whom are benefitting from workshops, coaching, and financial support that are helping them accelerate their impact.
Together with UnLtd India, UnLtd Tamil Nadu and UnLtd Hyderabad form the beginnings of a peer network of launch pads for early-stage change-makers. These launch pads will share and enrich UnLtd India’s model—spreading innovation and knowledge across the network to create a community that is stronger than the sum of its parts, and that will help UnLtd India achieve its wildly ambitious goal of accelerating 1000 social ventures by 2022, thereby improving the lives of millions people across India.
UnLtd India will be looking for more experienced entrepreneurs who are passionate about supporting others change-makers to help it launch two more affiliates very soon. Do you know someone who would be an excellent UnLtd India affiliate founder? Could you be one yourself? Visit UnLtd India’s website or send them an email to learn more about starting an affiliate in your region.
This content is brought to you by UnLtd India: the author Zak Smith is currently interning with the expansion team at UnLtd India in Mumbai. Before joining UnLtd India, Zak spent a year working with the University of North Carolina System, where he helped launch the first-ever UNC Social Business Competition, which was keynoted by Muhammad Yunus. Zak holds a B.A. in Economics and Public Policy from The University of North Carolina and enjoys snowboarding, yoga and cooking Thai food.