Reality TV show Elephant Wall seeks to catalyse social entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka
The show will provide aspiring and existing social entrepreneurs with a platform to express their ideas/concepts and have a panel of impact investors offer them startup capital or funds to expand.
Ath Pavura is a weekly reality TV show soon to be launched on network ITN in Sri Lanka. The first-of-its-kind social enterprise themed reality show is the brainchild of Lanka Impact Investing Network and Social Enterprise Lanka.
The concept has been worked on for over a year by the co-organisers, with the intention of promoting the concepts of social entrepreneurship and impact investment in Sri Lanka. Ath Pavura, in direct translation from Sinhalese, means Elephant Wall.
Out in the wild, elephants are known to form a wall to protect the baby elephants behind them in times of danger.
"Sri Lanka as a country is in danger due to prevalent social and environmental issues. This show hopes to give rise to impact investors, who in this case are portrayed as elephants, who are looking to protect and nurture the ideas brought about by social entrepreneurs to solve these challenges,” says Eranda Ginige, Founder, Social Enterprise Lanka and Co-founder, Lanka Impact Investing Network. Before working with social enterprises, Eranda was Head of Innovation, Partnerships and Business Development at the British Council in Sri Lanka. He has also worked on a startup reality TV show called Ideators.
The show is open to all Sri Lankans of age 14 and above. Foreigners living in Sri Lanka for the past two years are also eligible to apply. Social businesses still in the idea stage can also take part in the TV show.
The show will provide aspiring and existing social entrepreneurs with a platform to express their ideas/concepts and have a panel of impact investors offer them startup capital or funds to expand. Not only will a lot of these social business ideas be funded, but it will help existing entrepreneurs in this space identify their businesses as social enterprises and make the masses aware of this growing way of doing business, and allow for job creation instead of job seeking. Through this initiative the organisers hope dependency on government on development programmes will reduce, while communities will start to learn how to become more self-sufficient.
Social enterprise is at its early stages in Sri Lanka. “We identify any entity with the core purpose of solving a specific social and/or environmental problem and has a self-sustainable business model, as a social enterprise. We estimate there are about 10,000 such entities operating in Sri Lanka. Impact Investment too, is a new concept for Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka was listed among the 'Top 10 Most Giving' countries, and therefore we believe it's easier to convert some of that traditional giving to measurement-driven impact investment,” adds Eranda, on the state of the social enterprise sector in Sri Lanka. The show will facilitate investments of Rs 2,50,000-25,00,000 (Sri Lankan).
The current investment sizes demanded by the market are less than $20,000, and are mainly as venture capital. The aim of the show is to build a strong pipeline of social enterprises in the next 2-3 years so that a small portion of that will be eligible for large investments and scaling.
The co-organisers chose TV as they wanted to reach a larger population. They also plan to use YouTube and social media channels to maximise exposure. Other than the TV network ITN, the show has found partners in Hatton National Bank, telecom provider Dialog Axiata and Horizon Campus.