New Delhi: The Millennium Alliance Initiative today held a ceremony to announce the award of US$ 3.6 million (₹26.25 Crore) to 49 aspiring Indian social entrepreneurs for their innovative solutions to address Indian and global development challenges. Among them, 33 innovative solutions will focus on health, agriculture, clean energy, education, water and sanitation and disability. This is the 6th round of awards made by the multilateral initiative since it was founded in 2012. The remaining 16 solutions will respond to the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 crisis in India and Africa/South Asia with support (up to US$1.3 Million) from the UK Government.
Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India stated, “The Millennium Alliance directly contributes towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty alleviation, hunger reduction, good health and well-being, quality education, clean water & sanitization, affordable and clean energy and partnerships. I hope the Millennium Alliance continues to contribute with positive socio-economic impact across the developing world. I congratulate all the partners, innovators and entrepreneurs who have been part of this journey and wish the initiative all the success to move from strength to strength.”
Congratulating the winners, the U.S. Charge d’affaires Edgard Kagan said, “The United States and India have a long history of collaboration in the development sector, including working together on cutting-edge research and building partnerships that promote science and technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship. We are honored to recognize the hard work and dedication of the 49 enterprises receiving the grant, who are addressing some of India’s most challenging development issues, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Sir Philip Barton, British High Commissioner to India said, “I am delighted to join the Millennium Alliance Awards ceremony today. Now more than ever, the global community should come together to tackle the challenges that face us all. The Millennium Alliance Awards recognize the creativity of innovators in providing solutions to the current COVID-19 crisis. As a joint force for good, the UK-India are working together to address global development challenges across health, agriculture, clean energy, education, water & sanitation and disability sectors. The Millennium Alliance demonstrates our joint determination to ‘build back better’ from this crisis.”
Mr Ajai Chowdhry, Founder, HCL and Chairman, FICCI Start-up Committee stated, “The Millennium Alliance is a unique partnership that brings together global partners for achieving a common objective of fostering social innovation. The enterprises awarded under the program are playing an important role in providing service delivery of affordable solutions at the last mile. The Alliance supports technology and innovation development taking India on a path of self-reliance.”
Established in 2012, the Millennium Alliance (MA) is a partnership between the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; US Agency for International Development (USAID); UK Government, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Facebook and the Marico Innovation Foundation.
Since its inception, the MA has received and evaluated more than 8,000 applications and has funded 173 Indian innovations with a funding of US$ 15 Million. Besides funding, the platform provides capacity building, mentoring, and networking support to the portfolio enterprises which plays a significant role in scaling up these innovations.
The MA-supported entrepreneurs have been able to forge more than 262 partnerships implemented in 24 states and 97 districts across India. These enterprises have been able to generate over 138,000 jobs touching 7 million lives. The MA enterprises have been able to raise 5.44 times more funds on their own after receiving the initial funding by the MA. Several MA awardees have extended their reach and impact to Africa and South Asia including in Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.