Google Impact Challenge awards all ten entries with cash prizes
New Delhi: Four technology-oriented Indian non-profit organizations (NGOs) were awarded Rs.3 crore each at the Global Impact Awards on Thursday in New Delhi.
Governance centre Janaagraha, which proposed an app to connect citizens with the government; agricultural training initiative Digital Green, with an online platform to help farmers gain agricultural skills they need to lower their costs and increase their productivity; and the science and technology education group Agastya, which uses a network of motorbike science labs to teach kids in rural areas and train teachers were the winners of the top cash prize as well as 10 Nexus tablets each and the promise of Google’s technical support to help them scale and amplify their efforts in India.
A fourth winner, chosen by public vote, the Social Awareness Newer Alternatives (SANA) project that works to provide solar-powered water purification in villages, also received the top prize.
The Google Impact Challenge asks NGOs working on social initiatives on how they can use technology to drive social impact and “make a better world faster”.
The panel of judges, who picked the three main winners, had a surprise for the six remaining finalists. Each was awarded a gift of Rs.1.5 crore to help scale their efforts. The six were Pratham Books, a reading initiative in schools; Breakthrough, a social awareness campaign to end violence against women; Shelter Associates, a digital mapping programme to identify sanitation gaps in slum areas; Prayas, a project to improve power distribution by utility companies; Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, a project to develop an online marketplace for waste pickers and recycling; and Going to School Fund, which uses open source mobile games to teach entrepreneurship skills to kids.
“As judges we were all very inspired, we wished we’d had these ideas when we were younger. This way all of you can continue your efforts,” said Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, who was joined on the panel by Anu Aga, chairperson of Thermax Ltd; Jacquelline Fuller, who leads Google Giving; Ram Shriram, founder of Sherpalo that mentors entrepreneurs, and founding board member of Google; and Jayant Sinha, managing director of investing firm Omidyar Network India Advisors.
This is the first time Google Impact Challenge has been held in India, said Fuller, though the challenge was started in the UK last year. “We had more than 500,000 votes and more than one million unique views to the site,” Fuller said.