IIM Bangalore addresses the lack of an effective support system for early stage NGOs by setting up NSRCEL Social, an incubator for social ventures

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Bangalore: The entrepreneurship and innovation hub of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) – NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) has launched its social ventures incubator to exclusively nurture early stage non-profit organizations. Called NSRCEL Social, this first of its kind incubator in the country, is looking to help social ventures who have potential of delivering impact and offer connects, funding and other wraparound services as is being currently done under the ‘for profit ‘ model.

The social ventures incubation program is currently supported by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

NSRCEL Social has selected eight early-stage organizations for incubation over the next 18 months. The incubator aims to address the lack of an effective support system for early stage NGOs that are offered little or no technical assistance for fund raising, legal issues and operational challenges.

“Our objective with this program is to understand the processes by which we can incubate scalable NGOs. Scalability is difficult to achieve for for-profit start-ups, especially for NGOs. Having said that, some NGOs in India and abroad have done this successfully. Our intention is to motivate nascent non-profit start-ups to build scalability DNA into their organizational culture. We are attempting to do this in a two-step process: through Launchpad (a quarterly, cohort based 12-week pre-incubation program designed for early stage entrepreneurs) we helped the start-ups decrease their scope of problems they would like to address and in our two-year incubation process, we will help the start-ups build scalable solutions,” said Dr. Suresh Bhagavatula, Chairperson, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development at NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore.

This initiative aspires to create a proven template for non-profit incubation in India, developing a playbook for nurturing and scaling early stage organizations. Such an approach can be replicated at other academic institutions and incubation hubs across the country.

“The launch of this first cohort of leaders with the potential to become role models in the non-profit world in India is very exciting for us. The opportunity for supporting early stage non-profits in India is boundless, as there is outstanding talent that can deliver considerable social impact given the necessary support. Ever since IIMB launched its pioneering non-profit incubator, we have seen a wave of interest from funders and implementing organizations to replicate this approach. We at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation continue to deepen our work in supporting start-ups, knowing well that the efforts of such talented and committed entrepreneurs is critical for us to achieve our mission, and also necessary for the overall development of the nation,” said Debasish Mitter, Country Director, India. Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

Selection Process
NSRCEL Social is looking to build the incubator by supporting a lot of other non-profit ventures with high potential. The idea is to be sector agnostic and provide capable social entrepreneurs with the right framework for growth and create impact by leveraging its experience and expertise in the for-profit space.

The selection process for the program started early April this year. The centre received over 160 applications, out of which 24 were selected spanning diverse sectors like education, livelihood, and financial inclusion. The 12 week pre-incubation program for these ventures included mentoring, classroom sessions on critical strategies, field visits, boot camp, networking and intensive review sessions.
Shortlisted ventures were pitched in front of an esteemed advisory committee before the final eight were selected. The incubation will give the ventures access to resources at IIMB and leverage the support system created for non-profits. The incubator is guided by an eight-member advisory committee comprising established non-profit and business leaders and faculty of IIMB. It leverages the expertise of NSRCEL-IIMB in nurturing for-profit organizations for over a decade, faculty members and student communities at IIMB.

“The three-month Launchpad program through academic sessions, field visits and mentoring support, helped us see the full potential of our venture. IIMB, our fellow participants and the mentors at NSRCEL have provided a huge network that has increased the possibility of realizing that potential. We are thrilled to be selected for incubation by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and are honored to be amongst the first batch of social ventures at NSRCEL,” said Ashwini, Founder, Superheros Incorporated.

Selected Ventures
1. i-Saksham: Founded by ex-Gandhi fellows Ravi Dhanuka, Aditya Tyagi and Shravan Jha, it aims to enhance learning outcomes by training community youth educators using technology as the main facilitator. It enables these educators to run their own learning centers and meaningfully engage in various other educational activities.
2. Meraki: Brainchild of Seemant Dadwal and Co-founder Ghajal Gulati, it offers solutions for intergenerational burdens that disadvantaged families carry, by equipping parents with knowledge skills and mindset to be able to transform their children’s lives.
3. Mantra4change: It works through school transformation. Khushboo and Santosh, founders of Mantra4Change, explain that through an intensive two-year partnership with schools, Mantra4Change aims to transform the aspects of instructional leadership, teaching-learning processes and the school culture.
4. Tarkeybein Education Foundation (TEF): It develops English language learning tools and training programs for students and teachers. Learning tools are being co-created with children from low-income groups. The core focus is on children building skills of observation, interpretation and expression, and acquiring English language skills in this learning process.
5. Superheros Incorporated: It aims to develop success-oriented mindset and career readiness, along with strengthening technical skills in vocational trainees, in order to provide industries with skilled workforce. Operating through various programs designed for the students at ITIs, it aims to bridge the gap between the supply and demand of the skilled and trained workforce with enhanced employability.
6. Guardians of Dream: It is working towards building an anchor institution to define and consolidate the childcare sector. It is also working to solve critical gaps in research, intervention design, implementation capacity and resource mobilization. In the initial phase, Guardians aims to create and deliver interventions within an institutional framework (children’s homes and orphanages).
7. Bridges of Sports: Founded by Nitish M Chiniwar, it works with children from economically and socially backward communities in the age group of 8-14 years. A network of high quality volunteers, athletes and teachers dedicate two years of their life to the fellowship program and post fellowship, Bridges of Sports supports the fellows to become micro entrepreneurs with a focus on building and accelerating the vibrant sports ecosystem.
8. Anthills Creations: At Anthills Creations, Pooja Rai and Nancy Charaya, alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, are determined to bring back play for kids through building sustainable playscapes by using recyclable material.