New Delhi: Nasscom Social Innovation Forum (NSIF), a part of Nasscom Foundation, announced the winners from among entrepreneurs and not-for-profits who applied for its annual social innovation programme. The programme offers four grants of Rs10 lakh each in association with Mphasis to some winners in addition to a year-long mentorship and guidance. The NSIF is in its 10th year and is open to innovators who have technology-enabled solutions in the fields of education, financial inclusion, environment, healthcare, and accessibility, among others. This year NSIF received over 1,900 applications, an almost 45% jump from the last year, from which 10 entrepreneurs and non profits were chosen across six categories after jury deliberation.
Shrikant Sinha, CEO of Nasscom Foundation, said that the ideas are selected on the basis of how frugal, accessible and affordable the innovation is. The grants which were introduced three years ago, will be disbursed equally between two non-profits and two for-profits each because “this can act as a catalyst for such agencies who have incubated ideas but because of a lack of systematic impact funding find it a challenge to go up to the next level," according to Sinha.
Even though all innovators will not be getting a grant, for many like Anil Kumar Reddy, co-founder of Donatekart, a crowdsourcing platform where people can donate in kind to charities instead of money winning the Nasscom award is about credibility and getting access to better technology solutions more than anything else.
“Right now our prototype is ready but we need conduct a pilot and then get ready to scale up. We believe Nasscom will be able to help us with this thanks to their network," says Shivi Kapil, founder of Empathy Design Labs Pvt Ltd which has designed Kriya, an IoT (Internet of things) solution centering around antenatal care.
From a low-cost pocket size computer (Pi Jam Foundation), a payment solutions platform designed specifically for NGOs (Danamojo), IoT enabled units which suck polluted air from the environment (Outdoor Air Pollution Controllers by StrataEnviro Pvt Ltd ) to an audio-tactile device that makes self-learning and classroom teaching of Braille possible (Annie by Thinkerbell Labs), all winners will have access to Nasscom’s network and will be able to seek guidance from member companies which will help them to sharpen their technology, business plan and scalability.
“Mentoring can be a game changer. While high quality mentors do make a difference, it is important for entrepreneurs to also be mentorable. Continuous learning and evolving is critical for any business to leverage opportunities and overcome hurdles," says Padmaja Ruparel, co-founder Indian Angel Network (IAN) who was one of the jury members at NSIF.