Published: 28th November 2018
How Social Alpha is getting entrepreneurs to solve India's biggest rural worries
The people behind Social Alpha tell us about how they're getting India's brightest young entrepreneurs to solve our country's biggest problems
In a world where Artificial Intelligence is slowly replacing manpower, entrepreneurs could be the differentiator. Which is why initiatives like Social Alpha make sense. Social Alpha (SA) is a joint initiative of the Tata Trusts and the Department of Science and Technology and has launched Entrepreneurs for Impact (E4i), a platform that equips passionate ‘entrepreneurs-in-the-making’ with end-to-end capacity building, training and exposure to India’s social sector. We spoke to Manoj Kumar, Head-Innovations and Entrepreneurship, Tata Trusts and CEO of Social Alpha.
His role: Manoj Kumar is the Head-Innovations and Entrepreneurship, Tata Trusts and CEO of Social Alpha
Social Alpha finds entrepreneurs who have a certain vision and connects them with real social problems that they can find solutions to. This is how they find and train them. "SA works along with Tata in head-hunting entrepreneurs and innovators who have the potential to bring about products that would make a difference in the community. These entrepreneurs are made to look into social concerns such as water shortage, sanitation, sustainability, agriculture and healthcare. They are then asked to come up with ideas and solutions and SA will guide them through the product development," Manoj explained and added as an example, "Take the availability of drinking water in a village, the solution would be creating technology that would purify water found in its raw state to fresh drinking water.”
If you are wondering how the process works from head-hunting to final product, this is how Manoj breaks it down, "The head-hunting process is an intense one. We are also open to people from all backgrounds bringing their ideas to us. Based on their ideas and the potential it holds, they will be shortlisted into the E4i programme." So what happens after they find the entrepreneurs they are looking for, you ask? They are put through a year-long process of training and development that focuses on grassroots-level problem solving, immersive development sector experience, technology scouting, business planning and venture building — all in connection with entrepreneurship. "They will then have a year of training with access to laboratories, mentorship, product development, marketing and financial capital. SA looks at each individual entrepreneur and we customise our services as per their need. At the end of the year, post all the training, qualified projects will be invested in. The capital invested would range from $2000-200,000. The investors will also follow up and act as advisories for each project," explained Manoj.
With employment being the need of the hour — especially in a country that has a population mostly dominated by youth — promoting entrepreneurs will benefit us in multiple ways, “Entrepreneurship is just going to increase the whole size of the employment pool. Entrepreneurs are job-creators and not job-seekers. What better way to increase the economic value and solve the problem of employment in our country? It's a 'two birds one stone' scenario," concluded Manoj.