Prosus launches ‘Social Impact Challenge for Accessibility’ in partnership with Invest India and Social Alpha

Prosus SICA is a social impact investing challenge where startups with the most innovative solutions in the assistive technology space will compete for an annual grant.
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Prosus, the global consumer internet group Naspers, announced the launch of the Prosus Social Impact Challenge for Accessibility (Prosus SICA) on August 26, 2020.

Prosus SICA is a social impact investing challenge where startups with the most innovative solutions in the assistive technology space will compete for an annual grant. Prosus is committing Rs 1,65,00,000 over three years to Prosus SICA, and grants will be awarded to the top three startups each year .

“Indian entrepreneurs are shaping an exciting future and building businesses that address unique societal needs. Prosus would like to support startups in India working on assistive technologies to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities. In addition to financial grants, Prosus, along with our partners, will also provide technical support, mentorship, and business advice. The programme will also bring together two key government campaigns, Digital India and Accessible India,” Aileen O’Toole, Chief People Officer at Prosus said.

The challenge will be open to Indian startups that are less than ten years old and recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade / Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Prosus SICA has been developed in partnership with Invest India, the country’s national investment promotion and facilitation agency, and Social Alpha, an initiative supported by Tata Trusts. Startup India Hub will host the programme on its website.

“The excellence of Indian ingenuity has been at the forefront throughout the pandemic. The ability of our entrepreneurs to pivot and develop impactful frugal solutions is India’s strength. As we move towards an Atmanirbhar Bharat, envisioned by the Prime Minister, it becomes imperative to ensure that India builds on these strengths and provides solutions for challenges being faced across the world. This challenge, aimed at developing assistive technologies for persons with disabilities, will aid in achieving this vision,” said Deepak Bagla, MD & CEO, Invest India.

The winning products will be socially impactful, technologically innovative, sustainable, scalable and capable of introducing positive change in the lives of persons with disabilities. The product should be in its final stages of launch or have completed user validation. The submissions will undergo screening by an eminent jury, a thorough evaluation by sector experts and end-user interviews followed by demonstration of the use case.

Manoj Kumar, Chairman & Founder, Social Alpha, said, ”In India, there is a huge shortage of high-quality and affordable assistive technology solutions that can empower persons with disabilities. We need to encourage commercial investment in innovations that can cater to persons with disabilities. We started working in this space in 2018 and have supported over 15 startups validating their product-market fit, helping with clinical trials, and bridging the gaps that exist in the distribution and service channels. We are very proud to partner with Startup India and Prosus and hope that this challenge will open up exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs.”

In addition to the grant award, eligible startups will also receive an opportunity to incubate with Social Alpha. The winning startups will also be inducted into the Prosus SICA mentorship program where they will benefit from Prosus’s vast experience in supporting entrepreneurs and helping them succeed.

The application window began on August 26 and will be open until October 12, 2020. Participants can learn more about the challenge and application process on the Startup India Hub

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