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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Dropping the social in social entrepreneur

About 9 months into my TechSangam blogging journey (that would be circa 2012), I was one of the guest bloggers at the Villgro Unconvention 2011. I recall a discussion where panelists were asked to predict where the social enterprise ecosystem would be in 10 years. You are probably yawning and rolling your eyes. I did too when …

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Why doing good with tech is hard

The blog comes alive.. or should I say “starting to flicker” after years. Thanks to my morning Twitter timeline, I read this beautiful piece by Jonathan Stray (computer scientist and investigative journalist) that I’m taking the liberty to selectively excerpt. You (long-form reader) are directed to entire the entire article here. The rest of you …

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More coaching less schooling

  IITs to release 50 years of solved JEE Question Papers!! India’s Human Resources Department (akin to Department of Education in US and elsewhere) made this decision after consultation with the IITs purportedly to combat the scourge of Kota coaching academies. This story popped up in my Facebook timeline and my friend Himanshu Nautiyal had this …

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