This article is part of Young Entrepreneurs of the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Series
DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia, a pan Asia competition for social enterprises, has announced its 12 shortlisted social ventures from over 400 applications received. The competition is aimed at identifying and supporting new social ventures that have the potential to generate scalable and sustainable social impact.
Bodhi Health Education and Let’s Be Well Red are two social ventures working in the healthcare sector; Damascus Fortune Technologies (DFT) works to transform harmful carbon emissions into carbon nano tubes. These three social ventures from India are shortlisted among the 12 semifinalists. Bodhi Health Education is working to provide quality training to health workers to increase their effectiveness, DFT is converting pollution to profits staying true to their tagline of ‘Carbon for Good’ and Let’s Be Well Red is fighting anemia with its low cost GudNeSs bars. More about the three social ventures:
Bodhi Health Education
Bodhi Health Education is working to overcome the problem of shortage of skilled frontline health workers through capacity building and by improving the quality of the poor performing community health workers. These health workers form the back-bone of public health systems in most of the developing countries but due to poor quality of training provided, they are unable to perform effectively.
Bodhi Health Education was founded by Abhinav Girdhar and Shrutika Girdhar in 2012 and are currently targeting the Indian market addressing an estimated shortage of 3.6 million health workers.
Bodhi Health Education leverages low cost mobile technology coupled with eLearning to create scalable, high quality training solutions for the bottom of pyramid health workers. Complex medical topics are taught to semi-literate women in an interactive and engaging way using pictorial videos in regional languages.
The content is developed and curated by a team of medical experts supported by illustrators who make the concepts pictorial. Inexpensive android based tablet computers, existing IT infrastructure at health centers and mobile phones available with the health workers are used for delivering this training. They also provide certification and assessments to health workers. The trainings can be monitored from a central location assuring quality checks.
Community health workers benefit directly by improved skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively. It also leads to increased chances of earning more by being able to correctly diagnose ailments and refer more patients to community health centers. The venture aims to train 60,000 health workers serving a 100 million people in regions with worst health indicators.
“DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge provided a unique platform by bringing mentors, incubators, angel investors, social venture funds and high quality peers across Asia together. This is of huge value to startups like ours looking to tackle the problems across the region. Being a part of the shortlisted 12 is a fantastic feeling,” says Shrutika.
Damascus Fortune Technologies
Global fossil fuel energy consumption produces 32 billion tons of carbon emissions that are released into Earth’s atmosphere every year and it is a major cause of climate change. Damascus Fortune Technologies (DFT) sequesters carbon from carbon-emitting factories and converts it into one of the strongest materials known to man– Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs).
By using carbon emissions as a resource to make structural materials, DFT is proving that pollution can be put to a useful purpose. Due to the high manufacturing costs of CNTs from existing processes, the prices have not been very appealing and economically feasible for its application worldwide. But DFT’s CNTs are low cost and eco-friendly. Their system is patent protected both in India and internationally.
DFT is co-founded by three young entrepreneurs S. Venkateswara Rao, Venkatesan K R and Vivek Nair, who are graduates from SASTRA University, India. Their primary business model is to license the reactors that convert the carbon emissions into CNTs to factories that need to control their carbon emissions. They can either sell their CNTs to another company or can use CNTs in-house. DFT’s technology helps in directly mitigating carbon emissions and pushing forward the nanotechnology revolution.
Venkatesan says, “Carbon nanomaterials generated by DFT will bring the cost down rapidly, due to using waste heat and gas from existing factories on site, and not having to build massive manufacturing plants since our reactors can be used on-site creating a decentralized and uber low-cost manufacturing landscape.”
DFT’s vision is to put carbon emission gases to good use for society, which brought about their tagline “Carbon for Good”.
DFT is one of the 12 semifinalists at DBS-NUS-Social Venture Challenge. Speaking about it, Venkatesan says,
“DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge is one of the best platforms to address social innovations in Asia. We are incredibly grateful to take part in their boot camp which was well addressed by many business and technical experts. It is both deeply moving and humbling to be semi-finalists amongst all the amazing minds who have taken part in the challenge.”
Let’s Be Well Red
Anemia is a major silent killer in India, accounting for 65% of maternal/fetal deaths and is one of the leading causes of deaths in premature babies. It affects 900 million people in India, including 55% of women and 70% of children. These statistics persist across demographics of income, age and education.
Let’s Be Well Red (“LBWR”) aims to combat iron deficiency anemia in India by increasing awareness of the condition by mobilizing & engaging local communities. LBWR also manufactures and sells affordable nutritional supplement bar, GudNeSs, which contains 14mg of iron, enough to satisfy daily requirement of an average human being as recommended by the World Health Organization.
LBWR was founded by Rajvi Mehta in 2011. She is a medical student at Duke University. When she suffered the consequences of anemia and realized the scope of the challenge in India, she founded LBWR to educate people about the effects of anemia and the importance of right nutrition. Realizing the need for a simple solution that could provide adequate iron nutrition, LBWR went on to create GudNeSs bars.
The Gudness bars have a shelf life of 6 months without any special storage requirements, making it ideal for the Indian market. LBWR has sold over 150,000 GudNeSs bars through schools, NGOs, retail and individual orders since the start of production in September 2012.
The core team at LBWR has 7 members and they also have a team of 12 Medical students from Duke University helping them with R&D efforts to improve the nutritional value of the bar at a lower price.
On being shortlisted as one of the 12 semi-finalists at DBS_NUS Social Venture Challenge, Bhaumik Shah, Vice President, Chennai Chapter of LBWR, says,
“We were quite optimistic about the learning curve our organisation as a whole would get from the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge. Being shortlisted at a competition organised on such a large scale brings us sheer joy and satisfaction that our efforts are being acknowledged.”
The top 6 teams qualifying for the finals of DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge will be announced on 6th May, 2014.
Stay tuned to know about other semifinalists of the challenge!
Disclaimer: This article is brought to you in association with DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia