Bengaluru, India, February 2, 2015: Action For India (AFI), a not for profit organization whose mission is to help scale the impact of social innovators in India, organized its 4th Annual Forum in Bengaluru. It is an annual flagship event that brings together 100 leading social entrepreneurs from around the country for a week-end and facilitates interactions for them with 100 “influencers,” including donors, impact investors, IAS officers, technology executives and policy analysts. The theme of AFI Forum 2015 was “Leveraging Peers, Partners & Technology for Scaling Impact: Connect. Collaborate. Co-Create.”
Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, addressed the Forum via videoconference. He spoke about the government’s initiatives in this critical sector, and the ambitious plan to provide training to 50 crore Indians.
Mr. Nandan Nilekani, who delivered the keynote address, said that there is a need to focus on creating awareness about the various unsolved problems that social enterprises can address through the use of technology; He also mentioned that Aadhaar has already reached 750 million Indians this year and the country is beginning to see many social and business innovations riding on the UID platform, to provide low cost and efficient services to a large segment of the population.
Mr. Sam Pitroda, Former Advisor, Prime Minister of India; Honorary Chairman, Action For India also addressed the delegates via video conference. He congratulated AFI and said, “The role of India’s social entrepreneurship sector is to apply knowledge and resources to provide the 400 million poor people of India with access to opportunities for growth. This is a difficult task, and can be only done if technology is utilized as one of the levers to tackle the problem, and used to scale rapidly.”
Mr. R Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM, also applauded AFI in releasing the report, ‘Partnering for Impact: Collaborating with the IT-BPM sector’, which showcased 15 companies that could partner with NASSCOM members.
Mr. Gururaj Deshpande , Founder, Deshpande Foundation also was present at the event. He spoke about Vision 2020″ – AFI’s initiative to build a nation-wide network of 20 regional hubs of social innovation by the year 2020 and was also a part of the keynote panel on ‘State of Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation in India.’ The panelists which included Rohini Nilekani, Founder
Chairperson, Arghyam and Peggy Dulany, Founder & Chair, Synergos, discussed how technological advancement, change in the mindset, increase in funding and media awareness, can play a vital role in fostering social entrepreneurship.
One of the highlights of the Forum was the announcement of the winners of the Silicon Valley Challenge (SVC). Five social entrepreneurs from across the country were chosen. The winners get to interact with leading investors, entrepreneurs and technology executives in California, with all expenses paid by AFI.
They cut across various initiatives that impact the bottom of the pyramid. These range from providing safe arsenic free drinking water in villages, at less than a quarter of the cost of conventional solutions; providing ways of blood testing to diagnose more than 16 diseases in villages at less than half the current costs.
The details of the five AFI SVC 2015 winners are as below:
SAS Healthcare: Uses technology as a major driver to provide community based comprehensive medical facilities to rural and urban poor at a nominal membership fee of one rupee per day per member. It has treated 40,000 patients in 2014 and disbursed more than Rs 8 crores for inpatient treatment.
DrinkWell: Provides clean and affordable water to areas impacted by arsenic and fluoride poisoning with a novel technology that requires 1/16th the power and 1/4th the cost as compared to conventional solutions. It has provided water to more than 250,000 across five countries to date. Drinkwell aims to transform the arsenic and fluoride water crisis affecting over 200 million people in India and Bangladesh, while providing entrepreneurial opportunity for service providers in thousands of villages.
MicroX: Has built on a patented process developed by IISc using microfluidics and disposable cartridges to provide accurate, low-cost, blood tests to patients who are currently outside the reach of conventional medical care -“To make diagnostics affordable and accessible for all.”
Saahas: Founded by Wilma Rodrigues, of Bangalore, focuses on bulk waste generators such as hotels, hospitals and corporates and enables them to become zero waste entities. They currently manage 7 tons of waste per day in Bangalore and Chennai, providing gainful employment to 80 employees.
Sankalptaru: Enables corporates and individuals to plant trees in locations where they are critically needed such as Uttarakhand, Ladakh and Rajasthan – and monitor their progress using GIS. They have planted 140,000 trees in 2014 with a 95% survival rate. They have provided this service to more than a 100 schools and 9 corporates.