Within impact investing and socially focused enterprises – still considered a nascent sector in India – a year can be a long time. Throughout this year we have seen a variety of trends and highlighted a range of innovations for low-income markets that are creating a strong and sustainable impact. As 2013 now comes to an end, we share below our top 5 posts from the year that has gone by in case you missed them.
Only 12% of India’s population lives in cities, the remaining 88% of people are not reaping many of the economic benefits from the country’s evolving leadership status and associated growth. Rural poverty remains rampant and given the diversity of rural India which is spread over half a million villages, innovative thinking is required to meet the needs of this majority.
At Ennovent we spoke with Mr. Pradeep Kashyap, the CEO and Founder of MART – India’s leading emerging markets consulting firm about the opportunities and challenges of creating innovations for rural Indian markets.
Healthcare has become one of India’s largest sectors – both in terms of revenue and employment. Although the country’s healthcare industry is projected to continue its rapid expansion, with an estimated market value of US $280 billion by 2020, increased population growth in India’s low-income communities has resulted in a lack of affordable and easily accessible quality healthcare for millions of people.
Recognizing the need for innovation within healthcare, in 2012, Ennovent partnered with the University Impact Fund, to research the opportunities available for entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and experts to add value to the Indian healthcare industry.
Every 28 days across the globe, half the world’s population menstruates. Yet despite this is one of life’s most natural occurrences, for millions of girls and women across Asia, Africa, Central and South America the high cost of sanitary napkins ensures menstruation is a significant challenge.
While new product, service and process innovations in a variety of sectors have resulted in lowered costs for many widely used healthcare products, the humble sanitary napkin continues to remain prohibitively priced. Arunachalam Muruganantham, also known as the ‘Menstrual Man’ and Azadi are some of the players disrupting this market in India while AFRIpads and Ruby Cup are creating impact in African communities.
In India, this quote by Yunus continues to be relevant even today as a majority of its population battles poverty. Socially focused ventures that provide innovations for low-income markets and create opportunities for a better lifestyle have however made significant progress in fighting this battle – especially since India got independence from colonial rule in 1947. As India celebrated its 67th year of freedom we paused and reflected on eight milestones that have played an important role in shaping India’s social enterprise landscape and the lessons they teach us.
While the impact created by innovations for low-income markets is being increasingly demonstrated by several enterprises in India such as lifestyle enterprise Mother Earth, rural hospital provider Vaatsalya, and solar energy company Barefoot Power, more relevant innovations must become mainstream in order for their impact to be truly maximized.
These innovations must realize scale not only geographically but also across markets and be made available to the masses. However, within India’s evolving startup ecosystem, scaling organisations catering to low-income markets while also being financially viable is often challenging. Ennovent spoke with a mentor, entrepreneur and investor to get their viewpoints on what’s needed to make these innovations ‘main-stream’.
We hope you enjoyed our annual round up of stories this year and will continue to come back to the Ennovent Blog for more such news about the industry in 2014.
To connect with a global community of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and experts working to accelerate innovations for low-income markets, join the Ennovent Network now.