It’s hard to believe that it’s already our fourth week in India.
As we’re (social-) starting the second part of our advisory engagement with Unltd Hyderabad along with the cohort of social enterprises the incubator is currently supporting (and as we’re recovering from an epic Holi celebration), it’s time I pause and delve on a topic that matters to me more now that I’m here than ever before: what could the Indian social entrepreneurship miracle teach the African social venture space?
India has generally been considered as a hot-bed for entrepreneurship (by 2025, 30% of the world’s billion-dollar companies will be from India) and social enterprises in particular (organizations built owith a social motive). Trends are indeed mind-blowing. The support framework for Indian social enterprises was recently reinforced through a bill under the Companies Act that encourages big corporations to contribute 2% of their profit to the social space through CSR. See an interesting oped on the topic from Esha Chhabra here.
If one combines the above ingredients with a growing ICT community (whether in Bangalore Startup City or in Cyber-abad) and an increasing access to capital, then the emergence (or rather boom) of hybrid ventures bringing about innovative technologies, (lean-) startup models and social impact frameworks comes with no surprise.
A lot of India’s social and economic developments are similar to what one can find in Africa the Continent I’m excited to be living in. Sitting in his Hyderabad Office, Vineet Rai, Co-founder and Chairman of Intellecap was recently sharing with me that “Africa is currently showing market trends one could find in India back in 2005“. This could explain why successful Indian ventures recently branched out to the “bright continent“, having proved their models in India and venturing out to geographies which although different, show comparable market structures.
I hence wonder. Is there a pattern there? A framework to observe? What pioneering local businesses could be transposed to the African context and brought to scale? Are social ventures the most appropriate models to expand? In the energy sector, we’ve recently seen Orb Energy expand to Kenya and we hear of similar strategic moves in the pipe. Along with a myriad of interesting India-Africa partnerships.
Interestingly, potential expansion to Africa was a topic mentioned during our first-ever discussion with our Indian-based corporate client, vRemind. It’s my conviction that this social startup could revolutionize the Indian health sector and specifically foster immunization for children under 5. This is all thanks to a unique value proposition: timely SMS reminders sent automatically to parents for their offsprings to get vaccinated, thus addressing a challenge that causes the death of nearly 2M children every year in the country.
A recent report carried out by McKinsey on behalf of GSMA on the prospects of technology for the global health market makes a solid case for our clients’ m-health venture! One day, I would love to see them operate in the African markets, where the service would be much needed. On top of all this, it’s such a pleasure to be working alongside Nagesh, Srinivas and their growing team, helping them turn their business plan into action, gain traction and raise early-stage impact capital. We’re learning as much as we’re sharing perspectives which is a very unique opportunity.
Happy to hear from you readers on what scalable and transposable models you think could be developed between two fast growing continents. After all, if you combine Africa and India, you get a third of the world’s population. Talking about economies of scale…
Last but not least!
Stephane Eboko (@StephaneEboko)
This post was written by Social Enterprise Consultant #6 Stephane Eboko, who is currently volunteering in Hyderabad, India on our inaugural Immersion Programme in Asia. If you’d like to #JoinUs in May, please send your CV and cover letter ASAP to firstname.lastname@example.org as we are currently interviewing for our final few places. Final deadline for applications, March 25th 2015. See our website for more details on this and other programmes www.socialstarters.org and check out further information regarding this specific opportunity on EscapeTheCity.