Chandigarh, February 1, 2016: Action For India (AFI), a not for profit organization designed to stimulate social enterprises in India, organized the 5thedition of its AFI Annual Forum at IIT-Delhi.The Forum witnessed presence of over 100 leading social entrepreneurs from around the nation interacting with 100 key influencers at the intersection of business, technology, entrepreneurship and social impact. The influencers included eminent personalities from diverse sectors including donors, investors, IAS officers, technology executives and policy analysts.
The Forum was kick started with an introduction of AFI by Sanjay Kadaveru, President-AFI followed by the inaugural ceremony chaired by Sam Pitroda, Honorary Chairman-AFI and including Dr. Vijay Bhatkar (FormerChairman, Board of Governors, IIT-Delhi), AashishDhawan (Founder & CEO, Central Square Foundation) and Shiv Khemka (Founder, Khemka Foundation).
Addressing the guests at the Forum, Mr. Sanjay Kadaveru said, “It gives us immense pleasure to host the 5thedition of AFI annual forum which brings social entrepreneurs together to focus on building a business that create jobs, community wealth and encourages innovation. With this initiative, we endeavor to expand the national network of regional social innovations hubs across the country. This will eventually help in job creation.”
“AFI is contributing to India’s growth by boosting social entrepreneurship and identifying social innovation hub champions. This Forum provides a platform to address the major challenges these entrepreneurs face which would include access to funds, technology and adequate funding. Given the above, a lot more needs to be done to facilitate scale-up of the social innovation movement in the country”said Sam Pitroda during his inaugural address.
With the launch of “StartUpIndia, StandUp India” by PM Modi, the focus is on rousing the entrepreneurial spirit among the country’s youth. Start-ups are expected to be engines of job growth, wealth creation and socioeconomic change at the bottom of the pyramid. According to a NASSCOM report, over the past few years, the start-up movement has picked pace, as funding into the sector grew 125%, from $2.2 billion in 2014 to $4.9 billion in 2015.
The first day witnessed a panel discussion led by on the role of technology in scaling social impact. Among the panelists were Anand Deshpande (Founder & CEO, Persistent Systems), Prashant Mehra (Chief Architect, Social Inclusion, Mindtree) and Neil Patel (Founder, Awaaz.de).
Sharing views on how social entrepreneurs can leverage technology, the panel emphasized on the need for technology gurus and experts to reach out to socialinnovators struggling with ideas and seeking support to scale their product ventures.
The first day captured sector-specific, cross-sectorial intensive discussions along with speed dating sessions between social entrepreneurs and influencers. The interactions covered sectors like agriculture, education, livelihood, healthcare, energy while also discussing the investment woes of the young entrepreneurs. The outcome of these interactions garnered recommendations for the AFI’s future actions to strengthen the ecosystem with reformed the policy framework.
The first day of the Forum concluded with a panel discussion on “Sustainability Development Goals” moderated by David Wilcox (ReachScale) in the presence of the panelists- Mairi Mackay (British Council), Neelam Chhiber (Mother Earth) and Dr. Ashwin Naik, (Vaatsalya). The session stressed on the need for changing the dynamics of the ecosystem and proposed that social enterprises be henceforth called ‘sustainable development enterprises’.
Action ForIndia also announced the semifinalists for the Silicon Valley Challenge, a competition where burgeoning social entrepreneurs were rewarded with 2-week all-expense paid trip to Silicon Valley, California to interact with leading investors, executives and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley.
The second day of the Forum began with another round of speed-dating between the enterprises and the influencers. The first panel for the day discussed the role of Governance and collaboration between public, private and development sectors to enhance the reach, impact of social enterprises. The panel moderatedby Pallavi Gupta (FifthEstate) included AmarjeetSinha (Addl. Secy, MoRD, GoI), GaruravDwivedi (CEO, MyGov), VenkiteshRamakrishnan (Sr. Assoc. Editor, Frontline) and AnoopKaul (BASIX).
A panel of ‘regional social innovation hubs’ discussed the impact that hubs such as EkalVidyalaya, Native Lead Foundation, eKutir and AFI and brought out aspects of such hubs that will be game-changers facilitating and supporting social enterprises at the grassroots. Moderated by Mahesh Kanumury (Arivali Partners), the panel included NagarajaPrakasam (Native Angels Network), K C Mishra (eKutir), Mallikarjun (EkalVidyalaya) and Sanjay Kadaveru (AFI).
The break-out sessions on ‘Indian-Americans and Social Impact in India’, ‘building a high skill team for your social enterprise’ and ‘collaborations to effectively scale social enterprises’ brought forward recommendations for both Govt. and AFI to strengthen the support ecosystem for social entrepreneurs.
The Forum hosted a unique Silicon Valley Challenge where 5 burgeoning social entrepreneurs were rewarded 2 week all-expense paid trip to Silicon Valley, California to interact with leading investors, executives and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. These entrepreneurs included Damini Mahajan (WeMakeScholars Edtech Pvt.), Saransh Vaswani (Saajha) and three others.