Day-long social impact summit, Sahay, at IIM Bangalore


Bengaluru: IIM Bangalore’s Social Impact Summit, Sahay, was organized by Vikasana, the social impact club of the students of the two-year MBA programme, on January 12 (Sunday), 2020. The aim of the summit was to bring together a diverse group of people from sectors such as health, education, energy, environment, sports, women and child development, and rural development to enable sharing of ideas and best practices from these sectors.

In his welcome address, Prof. G. Raghuram, Director, IIMB, dwelt on the theme for this edition of Sahay, ‘Reimagining the Indian Development Story through Leadership, Innovation and Impact Measurement’. He alluded to two ventures in the social space, namely, Sathi and Akshaya Patra Foundation, to illustrate the importance of impact measurement innovation at multiple levels.

The first session was chaired by Smita Ramakrishna, Co-founder, Rang De, a peer-to-peer lending platform aimed at providing microcredit to low-income households. She threw light on how they were striving to bring about a behavioral change amongst the masses, in order to transform them into responsible borrowers while trying to bring them aboard the formal banking network. She also shared five major lessons she had learnt along her journey, ranging from the need to have a prototype before approaching investors to always trusting one’s own instincts while embracing change. Further, she underscored the importance of being obsessed with one’s mission, having the willingness to accept failure, and being empathetic in one’s endeavors to achieve goals.

The second speaker session was by Srikrishna Murthy, CEO and Co-founder, Sattva Consulting. He spoke about his journey as a social consultant, which started with the motivation of providing a good set of advisors to help establish the credibility of organizations involved in social work and to help them become magnets for attracting talent and investment. Sattva works with early social entrepreneurs, government agencies, the World Bank and prominent philanthropic organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with an aim of alleviating poverty and its underlying problems. He went on to discuss the six ways of working adopted by Sattva. He pointed out that they are an ‘impact-first’ organization where speed and agility help them become outcome-focused. He added that a social entrepreneur has to wear two hats at once, one of ‘Impact’ and the other of ‘Business’, and that one has to start the journey with one problem she/he is most angry about.

The next session was a panel discussion moderated by Prof. Sourav Mukherji, Chair, Centre for Teaching & Learning at IIMB and faculty from the OB&HRM area. The panel comprised Kevin Houston, Director & Co-founder, Carbon Masters, Bobbymon George, Head of Impact Evaluation, Sattva Consulting, Tulika Verma, City Director, Teach for India, Divya Tiwari, CEO, Saahas, and Srikanth Prabhu, Portfolio and Innovation, Social Alpha.

Kevin Houston discussed how, during their initial years, no company was interested in measuring its carbon footprint, and how it led them to sell the solution to this problem. With Carbon Masters, they aim to tackle the carbon crisis. According to him, the best way to reduce carbon emissions is through the usage of biogas and there was no better place in the world to do that than in India. Bobbymon George highlighted the fact that any impact evaluation activity should be supportive in nature rather than being evaluative, as the purpose is to help the organization get better. Divya Tiwari said that her firm’s goal is to attain a circular economy and emphasized on the fact that it can only be achieved when industry designs products and services in line with this goal. Tulika Verma acknowledged that access to education has increased drastically in India but the new challenge is that of quality and discussed how Teach for India aims to tackle just that. Srikanth Prabhu pointed out how innovations in science and technology can help in sustainably solving societal problems and how Social Alpha aims to facilitate the same by supporting early-stage entrepreneurs in their lab to market journey.

The concluding event of Sahay was an Investor Start-Up Networking Session, wherein five investors – Nagaraja Prakasam, an angel investor, Sachin Gupta of CFO Angle, Shrikanth Prabhu of Social Alpha, Shreyansh Singhal of Ankur Capital, and Shankha Lahiri of Villgro – interacted with the attendees of the event and gave their feedback on the different start-up ideas presented to them. Each participant had three minutes to pitch their start-up idea to the investors. The ideas ranged from the technology sector to the public healthcare space.