India’s Largest Social Enterprise Creates India Inclusive Innovation Fund

Members of GOI's National Innovation Council (Courtesy: innovationcouncil.gov.in)

(Lest you miss my tongue-in-cheek title, India’s Largest Social Enterprise = Indian Government)

If you’ve been following Dr. Sam Pitroda’s movements, you’d know that he was appointed the Chairman of a newly formed National Innovation Council in Sep 2010. During his keynote at Sankalp Forum (May 2011), Pitroda announced the government’s intent to create a $1 billion fund for innovation in social enterprises. Yesterday, the first year report of National Innovation Council was released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Coinciding with that release was Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s announcement that the Indian Government was seeding the fund, India Inclusive Innovation Fund (IIIF), with an initial contribution of Rs. 100 crores. According to this Business Standard article, the Innovation Council is likely to start operating the fund after the corpus reaches Rs. 500 crores. According to PM Manmohan Singh, the fund is targeting to raise Rs. 5,000 crores “over a period of time”. The fund will be run purely as a “non-profit” with social focus and professional fund managers are reportedly going to manage this fund.

A few sound bites (curated from mainstream media coverage):

“Our informal sector, where the majority of our workforce is employed, has poor productivity and low skilled activities,” he noted. “They can benefit from innovation if they would exploit the existing knowledge base, including product design and connectivity with markets.” – Manmohan Singh

“Venture capital does not get attracted to solving the problems of the bottom half of the population and the government is committed to give them their due opportunity.” Pranab Mukherjee

“We were the first to realize the vision of universities at Nalanda and Takhshila. Our freedom struggle that we won without arms was a social innovation in peaceful resistance.” Manmohan Singh

“Our informal sector, where the majority of our workforce employed has low productivity and low skilled activities… They could benefit from innovation if they would exploit the existing knowledge base, including product design and connectivity with markets.” Pranab Mukherjee

With this announcement, the number of impact investing funds (with a partial or total focus in India) goes from 9 to 10 – yippee!

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