New Delhi: Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership India Yash project, together with Villgro, a leading social enterprise incubator in India, launched the Yash Entrepreneurs Program to catalyze innovative business models to improve family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) outcomes for young people. The launch was done in collaboration with the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India.
The Yash Entrepreneurs Program will support 20 enterprises across India, over a 36-month period, to invest in solutions to revolutionize how youth and adolescents access quality FP/RH services. The program will help shape an entrepreneurial ecosystem to scale promising and cost-effective FP/RH innovations by leveraging partnerships with key public and private sector stakeholders. Each enterprise will receive funding of up to Indian Rupees (INR) 10 Lakhs (approximately US $13,200), as well as technical assistance, mentoring, and incubation support from Villgro. The support will include skill building on the designing, prototyping, and manufacturing of products such as sanitary napkins, digital marketing, financial dashboards, legal compliance, organizational culture, and leadership capability.
A smaller number of promising startups will be provided with more intensive acceleration support, as well as an additional funding of up to INR 1 Crore (approximately US $1,32,000). The selection will be made based on evidence of future cash flow for the startup, its technology potential, strength of product pipeline, ability for the team to grow the company, and the potential reflected in the first round of funding.
Enterprises across the country that have a ‘minimum viable prototype’ and initial market traction are encouraged to apply at the link attached. The program particularly encourages women entrepreneurs and businesses with gender-inclusive products and services. Applications will be accepted until May 15, 2022.
Speaking at the launch, USAID/India Health Office Deputy Director, Dr. Amit Shah said: “As the world’s largest family planning/reproductive health bilateral donor, USAID is committed to helping countries meet the family planning and reproductive health needs of their people. Through the Yash Entrepreneurs Program launched today, USAID will harness the capabilities of India’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem to test and scale innovative models to improve reproductive health and family planning outcomes for young people. USAID views this as a valuable platform to bring together investors and donors to support enterprises that show promise of creating sustainable health impacts.”
Speaking at the launch, Dr Sapna Poti, Director, Strategic Alliances Division in the Office of Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India said “The Office of PSA is working towards identifying and commercializing innovations across India that have the potential to improve the lives of Indians. ‘Yash Entrepreneurs Program’ will contribute to driving innovation and technology delivery towards solving challenges in the family planning and reproductive health space. We will be facilitating public-private linkages and partnerships for enterprises associated with the program, such that they are able to attain greater scale and create more social impact. We appreciate USAID’s support in improving the health and well-being of our young citizens”.
Speaking at the program’s launch, Srinivas Ramanujam, CEO, Villgro Innovations Foundation, said: “As an organization striving to support and strengthen social enterprises and health avenues, we are tasked with heralding a new wave of transformation across the FP/RH domain in the country. We are confident that the Yash Entrepreneurs Program will prove to be a remarkable achievement in facilitating the incubation and acceleration of solutions which will effectively empower the FP/RH ecosystem to match global standards.”
USAID’s MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash project is led by Jhpiego, a Johns Hopkins University affiliate and partner. The project demonstrates innovative models to accelerate improvement in FP/RH outcomes for vulnerable adolescents and youth. Dr Somesh Kumar, Country Director, Jhpiego, said “We are determined to create and deliver transformative health care solutions that save lives, working closely with national governments, health experts and local communities to guarantee healthier futures for women and their families. The Yash Entrepreneurs Program will bend the curve towards ensuring high-quality, safe, and effective FP/RH services, products and information for all.”
Villgro Innovations Foundation is India’s foremost and one of the largest social enterprise incubators that support invention-based social enterprises in Health, Agribusiness and Climate Action. In the Health sector, Villgro is focused on improving health outcomes for underserved communities through affordable, accessible, and innovative solutions that span the detection, management, and prevention of ailments.
Since 2001, Villgro has supported 323 social enterprises that have raised over INR 4,388 million in investments, to create 4922 jobs and impact over 20 million lives. Villgro was awarded the Top Incubator Award by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (GoI) in 2020.