Social entrepreneurship is all about uplifting and enriching the lives of socially and economically disadvantaged communities. But a majority of enterprises working in this space face challenges in securing funding, getting the right people on board, or even finding the right tools and technology for their product or solution.
This is where an accelerator like SIGMA can make a huge difference. A one-of-its-kind programme for social impact startups in India, SIGMA aims to create an ecosystem to nurture enterprises that are working to create better lives, especially for those at the bottom of the pyramid, through innovative products and solutions.
This initiative is being driven by Zinnov and GIZ, a global sustainable development think tank. Other collaborators include Citrix, Ericsson, and Harman, who will provide their expertise and mentor the selected startups, while technology business incubator IKP EDEN will host the 15 startups selected for the first cohort of the programme at their Bengaluru premises for the duration of the programme.
On the occasion of the launch, Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, Department of IT, BT, S&T, Government of Karnataka, said, “We have set a goal to associate with 20,000 startups in a span of five years. We want to see social enterprises from the SIGMA accelerator become commercially viable while solving pressing problems in the country.”
Who can apply?
Charles Fernandes, Programme Advisor, Zinnov, said, “We will shortlist 15 social startups that are in the pre-Series A stage, or have received seed funding, have a clear business model and a minimal viable product that can be sold to an identified customer base.”
So, if you are a social impact startup working at the grassroots level in the areas of education, healthcare, clean tech, sanitation and smart agriculture, have a minimum viable product or solution at the post-prototyping stage, and have minimum customer traction, then you are eligible to apply.
Why should you apply?
Zinnov and GIZ are the technical advisors and thought leaders and will ensure that the programme maintains international standards. Citrix, Ericsson, and Harman will be the corporate mentors and programme sponsors, while IKP EDEN will provide access to their co-working space and prototyping facilities. Some of the other benefits include:
Mentorship across functions: Startups selected for the accelerator will not only get a chance to be mentored by senior leaders from corporates associated with the programme, successful social entrepreneurs and impact Investors, they will also undergo custom-made technology training programmes created especially for them.
Customer access: The selected startups will get targetted customer access for requirement analysis, or at a Proof of Concept/demo stage on a case-by-case basis, which will help them fine-tune their product and increase its reach.
Ecosystem connections: The selected startups will get access to investors as well as government channels, and get a chance to interact with other startups working out of the IKP EDEN co-working space in Bengaluru.
F6S Alpha access: F6S Alpha is an invite-only membership for select startup founders and unlocks access to free growth services, including discounts and priority access to events.
Operations support: The programme also ensures that startups get access to advisory services on legal matters, tax and finance, marketing/communication, HR, and IT Infrastructure support.
Stipend and grants: The selected startups will each receive a stipend of INR 15,000 per month and on graduation, the top three startups will receive seed grants.
The four-month-long programme will take social startups through various aspects of scaling their business and becoming market-ready. The curriculum will include modules on design thinking, business model canvas, value proposition, product features, sales and marketing, growth hacking, valuation, digital marketing, compliance, and team building.
How will it work
After the initial screening, 30 shortlisted startups will move to the next round, where they will interact with a jury comprising senior leaders from amongst the corporate sponsors and external advisors. The jury will pick 15 startups, all of whom will advance to the next round that starts on August 26 with a boot camp.
In mid-December, the 15 startups will get a chance to pitch their solution to a panel of impact investors, corporate leaders, and representatives from government bodies on Demo Day.
So, if you are a social enterprise looking to scale up, apply now for your chance to make your innovation a reality and to take it to those who need it the most.