Many of us have let the voices of our calling die out. The reasons could be many – we wouldn’t know where to start, how to go about, where the money would come from or simply we wouldn’t know if we can pull it off. And it becomes more than a personal loss when someone with a social intent backs off. Pooja Warier strongly felt that individuals who have wonderful ideas to make a difference to the world around us should not be held back. With this thought she, along with Richard Alderson, founded UnLtd India – a unique launch pad for social entrepreneurs.
Vijaya’s dream is sustainable agriculture that bridges the rural and urban gap, Inir’s is a rural India that’s self-empowered, Ashok’s is a generation of leaders empowered through sports – and UnLtd India is where all these dreamers converge. These passionate individuals, whose ideas will make a difference to the society we live in, come together at UnLtd India. They learn from each other, share their experiences and enjoy belonging to a rich group of change makers.
Many of these wonderful ideas need the kind of crucial support that UnLtd India provides in their early stages. UnLtd India gives these individuals, the investees, a platform to take their work to the next level. They are taken through an enriching experience – peer learning, investee interactive sessions, exposure to professional advice, incubation, identifying resource gaps, training and guidance on fund raising etc. Their dreams are tested for practicability, they develop as leaders and their working models are strengthened. In the end these initiatives blossom into strong social ventures that are bound to touch many a thousand lives.
Ashok Rathod, founder of Oscar – an organization that uses sports to make youth and children aware of their rights and responsibilities – says, “The incubation team has helped me put systems in place and boost my targeted budget from 1 to 7 lakh rupees. Interacting with other investees has pushed me to think about my community and approach partnerships in new ways. Other investees think big, so I do too.”
Here’s what Karen Braganza from the Incubation team of UnLtd India has to say – “What is most unique about our cohort of investees is the diversity they bring to the group – diversity in terms of their backgrounds, age groups, ideas and innovation. We have attempted to create a program that not only provides access to funds, expertise and networks, but also lets our investees leverage that diversity through peer support programs.”
The fact that UnLtd India goes beyond being a financial support provider makes it dearer to its investees. UnLtd India truly understands that it’s not an easy journey for social entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true. It will almost take an extra bone for a youngster to announce to his family that he’s gonna quit his job to work for a social cause. And when you have peers who follow the safest of career paths, financial constraints and other factors can become rather complicated. That’s when a group of like-minded people at a place such as UnLtd India will make a difference.
UnLtd India, based out of Mumbai, organizes bi-annual incubations for participants chosen from among many applicants. Next round of applications will be open on 1st April 2012. Take a look at their website http://www.unltdindia.org/and you can see a wide variety of people who work on some of extremely interesting of ideas. May be you could apply for the next session too!
Evaluating the scale of their impact, UnLtd India proudly says, “for each 1 Rupee we have provided in funding, each investee has on average raised or earned a further 4.15 Rupees – that’s a 415% increase. Each of our investee projects has, on average, created 4.2 new jobs in the economy. Our support has led to significant increases in confidence (141%), focus (115%), communication (138%) and leadership skills (112%) for our investees.”
While we were not aware of it earlier, The Better India has featured a lot of investees of UnLtd India for the wonderful work they are doing. Some of these are: Partho Bhowmick of Blind with Camera (a unique initiative allowing the visually impaired to learn photography using sound), Dhruv Lakhra of Mirakle Couriers (a courier company employing the deaf), Vijaya Pastala of Under The Mango Tree (an organic certified company linking rural producers and urban consumers) and Nikita Ketkar of Masoom (an organization working with night schools in Mumbai to improve their quality of education).
As UnLtd India continues to strengthen our change makers and expand the scale of their good deeds, we can hope to see a better and a happier India in the days to come.