India’s most promising early-stage social ventures

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 ~The fourth edition of Tata Social Enterprise Challenge attracted 210 impact proposals~

Kolkata, January 18, 2016: Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2015-16, a joint initiative of the Tata group and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC), celebrated India’s most promising early-stage social enterprises, which could bring about long-term solutions to India’s social problems.

The grand finale of the fourth edition of the programme held on January 16, 2016, at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C), sawHelpUsGreen® from Kanpur (Winner), Jeevtronics from Pune (1stRunner-up), and Hasiru Dala Innovations from Bengaluru and Disease Diagnose Group from Boston, USA (joint winners of the 2nd Runner-up position), emerge as the most promising social ventures, winning prize money of Rs. 2.5 lakh, Rs. 2 lakh and Rs. 1.5 lakh, respectively (detailed profiles attached in Annexure 1).

Tata Social Enterprise Challenge (TSEC) is a quest to find India’s most promising early-stage social enterprises. The endeavor of the challenge is to create an ecosystem for social entrepreneurship and encourage sustainable, scalable and measurable social impact. This year’s edition received 600+ registrations from across India, out of which 210 met all the eligibility criteria and moved to the next round of the competition. These impact proposals were in the area of agriculture, food and dairy; healthcare, water and sanitation; technology and development; education & skills development; housing; handicrafts; and energy and microfinance/financial inclusion. The ventures were judged on three parameters – Business Model, Social Impact and Sustainability.

Ankit Agarwal, the winner of the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2015-16 has started HelpUsGreen®. A Kanpur based social enterprise, HelpUsGreen® preserves the rivers by flowercycling® the waste from the places of worship into bio-fertilizers and lifestyle products like incense and bathing soaps, among others, and in doing so also empowers women self-help groups (currently the venture is managing five women self-help groups with sixteen members each).

Ecstatic with his win Ankit said, “It’s been an overwhelming experience. We have won many competitions before but Tata Social Enterprise Challenge is like the Filmfare of social entrepreneurship.”

Jeevtronics, a Pune based venture, was declared as the 1st Runner-up. Ashish Gawade representing the venture said, “It was a great experience for us. The knowledge, mentoring and feedback that we received from the jury was really helpful, and it was good to collaborate with the other start-ups too.”

Jeevtronics is dedicated to designing and implementing affordable medical devices for underdeveloped and rural areas. It has patented a hand-cranked defibrillator – a life-saving device for heart patients – which has a built-in power generator that enables it to work in off-grid rural areas, mini ambulances and disaster relief camps, among others. The hand-crank generator requires 12 seconds to charge and comes at one-fourth the cost of competition.

The 2nd Runner-up position saw a tie between two ventures, Hasiru Dala Innovations from Bengaluru and the student-led venture, Disease Diagnose Group from Boston, USA.

Hasiru Dala Innovations is committed to creating predictable livelihoods for waste pickers through providing total waste management, urban gardening services and products for sustainable living. The model is designed to enable a circular economy that enhances the lives, be it a waste picker or a resident, it touches. The venture is supporting waste pickers to collect from 10,000 households in the city. It has also, in collaboration with partners, created a unique certification course called Enhancing skills of small entrepreneurs in the recycling industry. Shekhar Prabhakar from the venture said, “I am feeling like a kid having won his first prize. I will take away from here the many friends that I have made who are doing many inspiring things.”

The joint 2nd Runner-Up venture, Disease Diagnose Group (DDG), was represented by Alphonse Harris who said, “I am very excited to get the recognition for our venture and hope to use this recognition to get more partnerships.” DDG has developed a hand-held malaria detector called Rapid Assessment of Malaria (RAM). Out of every 1000 malaria infections, only 500 fevers are identified, 250 tests are performed and only 125 diagnoses are accurate. This device, called RAM for short, detects a magnetic substance that malaria parasites release when digesting red blood cells thus providing a faster and more accurate diagnostic test than those used currently, and at a much lower cost. The device is reusable, mechanical, fast and sensitive, and the technology is clinically approved.

The ceremony saw talks by inspiring leaders in the space of social entrepreneurship like Dr. N.V. Prajna, Chief of Medical Education at Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai; Mr. Vinayak Lohani, Founder of the NGO Parivaar; Mr. Manoj Kumar Nambiar, Managing Director of Arohan Financial Services; and Dr. Mammen Chandy, Director, Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, among others.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Ashok Banerjee, Director, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, said, “Social entrepreneurship is all about innovative solutions to social problems. At IIMC, we want to take this as a challenge and as a movement. In the last four years, as part of the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge, we have reached out to different parts of the country meeting students, entrepreneurs and NGOs, getting all stakeholders together, and creating awareness about social entrepreneurship. Going forward, we want to continue on this journey and contribute towards bringing about change through enabling social enterprises in India.”

Felicitating the winners, Dr. Mammen Chandy, Director, Tata Medical Center, Kolkata, said, “Today students of management should seek to find fulfillment in social entrepreneurship rather than only seeking personal material gain. The lives of people like Ida Scudder show how Social Enterprise can be transforming and change the lives of millions of people.”

Apart from the Top 4 winning ventures, the 6 ventures that have made it to the Top 10 finalists are Aadhan Infra (New Delhi), Cattle Mettle (Jodhpur), Dazl-My Kavach Wearable Technology (Gurgaon, Haryana), Dhvani (Mumbai), Distinct Horizon (New Delhi) and Oniondev Tech (New Delhi) (detailed profiles of the ventures are attached in Annexure 1).

The Top 20 teams were mentored by Startup Wave Platform, Ivy Camp, Unitus Seed Fund and the IIM Calcutta faculty. The Social VC partners of the initiative were Villgro, Intellecap, Ankur Capital, Yunus Social Business, Unitus Seed Fund, Ennovent and Acumen. The teams also had an opportunity to network with mentors, experts and fellow social entrepreneurs.


Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2015-16 kicked-off on August 16, 2015, and invited social entrepreneurs who either had an early stage venture (not older than 3 years) or a promising idea with a plan that could create sustainable social impact in India. Impact Proposals (detailed Business Plans) were invited in the areas of education, health, agriculture, technology, sanitation, and handicrafts, among others.

The challenge was divided into three rounds:

  • Round 1: Teams were required to submit Impact Proposals online in the format specified
  • Round 2 – Semi-finals: From an initial shortlist of 40 teams, 20 teams were selected to go through a 4-week mentorship programme. These teams pitched to a panel of esteemed judges consisting of social venture capitalists, social entrepreneurs, Tata executives and faculty from IIM Calcutta.
  • Round 3 – Grand-finale: 10 teams from the 20 semi-finalists were selected for the Finals and out of these the 3 winning teams were selected by an eminent panel of jurists.

Tata Social Enterprise Challenge is a unique initiative undertaken jointly by an educational institution and a business group. Started in 2012, Tata Social Enterprise Challenge received 210 impact proposals this year, and in all over 700 impact proposals across the four editions have been received till date.

To expand its reach and impact,Tata Social Enterprise Challenge through its R.A.C.E campaign (RoundtablesAwarenessChallengeEngage) conducts a series of seminars, roundtables and lectures across India on the theme of ‘Thinking Social’, bringing together social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and members from the academia, industry and business from across the country on one platform.

For more details and updates on the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge, please log onto