Solar mamas of Barefoot College

Barefoot College was on my radar for 9 years but it took a 3-day working weekend to finally understand what makes this organization so special. After seeing this documentary, a diehard “text, not video” guy like me can honestly admit the medium does great justice to this narrative. Reproducing the organization blurb directly from skoll.org: …

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Schwab Foundation’s Two Decades of Impact Report

A few times a year, I Google a few variants of “social enterprise news” with the hope of uncovering new kids on the block or some new social impact report. Measuring social impact is hard. For philanthropic organizations that do things other than direct investing (or give out grants) this is even harder. Today my …

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Raghu, the cycle repair guy

You go down Tavarekere Main Road or as Bangalorean direction-givers are apt to say “straaaaaaaaiiiiiitu” until you almost reach, what looks like a dead-end but upon closer examination, is a fork in the road. Just after crossing the perpetually non-dry naala zone gingerly (it takes some careful walking to avoid getting splashed), you’ll see Manjunath …

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Bangalore’s social enterprises – 2020 redux

This 2012 piece where I catalogued Bangalore’s social enterprises (30 of them) continues to be a popular destination for Google searchers. This is a redux post – essentially a 2020 update just by looking at their websites and media mentions. Artoo: Disburse a loan. In 40 minutes. With a single visit. At the doorstep. Bringing …

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We’ve got cash – you’ve got mail

That’s the tag line for GiveDirectly, a 10-year old US-based non-profit making waves in 9 African countries. “Cash” for unconditional cash transfers and “you’ve got mail” for the m-Pesa notification for lucky recipients. In a recently shared annual non-report, this visual caught my attention: The $2.4 million grant from Google.org (2012) and a subsequent $25 …

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Farmer cooperative to Farmveda in 7 years

Is it a coincidence that I invoke Dr. Trilochan Sastry in yesterday’s post and today there’s a message from him in my Inbox? Either that or I have psychic powers. Dear Sir/ Ma’am, To give you a bit of a background, India Farm Foods (IFF) with brand name Farmveda (www.farmveda.in) was founded in 2016 to …

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Unconditional transfers approaching primetime

Since I first read about unconditional transfers (in Banerjee and Duflo’s Poverty Economics book), I’ve been fascinated about this seemingly this-cant-possibly-work approach to foreign aid. Later I discovered GiveDirectly, a nonprofit organization operating in East Africa that helps families living in extreme poverty by making unconditional cash transfers to them via mobile phone. Last week …

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Insights from 3 Silicon Valley angels

What is it about startup life that makes it seem way longer than it was? My recent mGaadi journey lasted 3 yrs 8 months but it felt like 5 years. My previous journey (Graspr) lasted an intense 13 months but felt like 2 years. In my first stint as entrepreneur (2007-08), I had a healthy …

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If you don’t believe in your idea, take the money

The term sheet was in our inbox and we had the customary 2-3 days to respond. We had much to be happy about. After all, the term sheet was from one of the blue-chip VC firms with two celebrity partners. Since we had passed ‘their’ test, the outcome seemed to validate our endeavor that extra …

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