The/Nudge Incubator that works exclusively for nonprofit startups has announced its 7th and largest-ever cohort, in partnership with Mphasis, CGI India and Omidyar Network India. Sixteen startups working to accelerate solutions for low-income communities most impacted by the pandemic have been selected from among 554 applicants. These startups are solving some of the toughest challenges in India’s development sector. Interestingly, over 60 percent of the startups selected for incubation have female co-founders. With this latest addition, the total number of startups that The/Nudge incubator has supported since it began in 2017 is 75.
The/Nudge Incubator believes that these early-stage startup founders are not only among the most promising entrepreneurs committed to solving the difficult problems but have the necessary leadership capabilities and the DNA of scale, speed and innovation.
A 6-month long journey to create impact for the 16 startups
Each of the 16 startups will receive an innovation grant of Rs 15 lakh. The unrestricted nature of the grant offers startups the freedom to build fundraising engines, test new strategic initiatives, build tech stacks to scale, and fund core team members, among others. Beyond the grant support, the six months of incubation will focus on three aspects – knowledge bootcamps, networking and mentoring and portfolio support. The knowledge bootcamps, in the form of workshops, panels, and masterclasses, will cover key topics of relevance – from strategic clarity and branding to fundraising and compliance. The networking support offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to tap into connections to the wider ecosystem from potential program partnerships to funding partners. The programme also also sees the nonprofits working closely with dedicated mentors for the cohort period of six months. The mentors will provide support on high-level strategy through fortnightly calls. In addition, portfolio leads will work alongside the startups to help assess the strategic areas to focus on during the incubation period and play a pivotal role in ensuring that founders make progress on the identified areas through the incubation period.
Here’s a quick look at how the 16 startups from The/Nudge Incubator’s 7th cohort are creating impact in the areas of education, agriculture, employment, financial inclusion, gender equality and governance.
BIVES (Billion LIVES) is developing a network of high-quality volunteer tech talent driven by mentors and evangelists to build platforms and products to solve large-scale problems in partnership with other nonprofits. One of their products, Drona, is an AI-based voice recognition product that can analyse pronunciation in real time and thereby reduce the assessment workload of teachers by giving real time feedback to each student. The solution supports 10 Indian languages in addition to English.
Plio is building a personalised and interactive learning platform using free video content to improve learning outcomes. At the heart of Plio’s solution is a tech tool that allows educators to combine learning videos with multiple choice questions, build a user profile, identify engagement patterns and generate personalised recommendations for each student.
Rocket Learning is working towards improving children’s abilities and learning outcomes by using anchoring teacher-parent messaging groups (on WhatsApp). Parents are encouraged to make early childhood care and education a priority through play-based learning activities and sustained engagement via social media challenges, influencer role modelling, certifications and group competitions.
Vigyan Shaala (V.S.) is focusing on building an ecosystem for introducing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in schools. V.S. is on a mission to close the gaps in access, attainability and quality of STEM education. They have a uniquely-designed STEM fellowship programme for rural undergraduates to drive community engagement with STEM, and an workshop-cum-mentoring style program for women to build a community of women in STEM.
MakerGhat is yet another non-profit that is driving interest in STEM education. They create and operate maker labs in schools and communities to offer students a safe space to experiment, while also providing access to material resources, tools, and funds to invest in the ideas and access to local role models and mentors for guiding them.
Labhya Foundation is focusing on bringing more awareness and impact in education by driving scalable and contextual Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) programmes for children from low income households across public education. The foundation partners with governments, multilateral organisations and nonprofits to co-create the programmes, and provides end-to-end support with regard to curriculum, teacher capacity building, monitoring & evaluation, and a comprehensive plan to effectively mobilise & capacitate existing resources.
Raised Line Foundation is enabling equal learning opportunities for visually-impaired students. Its team of expert designers design and produce tactile graphics and special educators to enable teachers to replace tactile diagrams. The Foundation also creates tangible teaching learning aids which includes accessible print and braille resources, activity kits and other 3D models.
On a mission to increase and protect India’s biodiverse forest cover is Farmers for Forests (F4F). By adopting a payment for ecosystem services model, the organisation gives farmers an annual transfer per acre, conditional on them maintaining a certain percentage of forest cover. In addition, F4F also undertakes ecological restoration of degraded and unused rural land to grow new forests.
Khetee is making farming sustainable and profitable by promoting regenerative agroforestry in rural Bihar. Khetee undertakes implementation of agroforestry in farmer- owned land as well as community land, and drives awareness and education of regenerative agroforestry by setting up a farm library, regenerative agroforestry implementation training and a yearlong fellowship programme with local marginalised women and youth.
Gramhal Rural Development Foundation is working on addressing a key challenge for farmers – access to fair prices. It is building a platform to provide personalised fair price information to farmers and also enabling farmers to negotiate a fair price with buyers in the local ecosystem. The organisation also enables access to doorstep quality assessment and trains youth in quality inspection and enables them to set up a portable quality lab at the village.
Entrepreneurship and Employability
Manush Labs is a 10-week long impact accelerator programme for underserved and underrepresented entrepreneurs in Tier 2 cities in India that provides access to mentorship and the opportunity to gain investments from partner organisations. Manush Labs’ goal is to solve deep-rooted problems of Indian society by integrating design thinking, creative capacity building, systems thinking, and collaborative problem-solving.
India and Bharat Together (IABT Foundation) runs programmes for youth from rural areas to nudge them into stronger, better career pathways – in employment and entrepreneurship through workshops, self-learning resources, individual mentorship, access to role models, and youth networks.
Groundata is building an AI-powered slum data intelligence platform. They are mapping slums using a multi-pronged approach leveraging machine learning, GIS and crowdsourcing, surveying slums and assessing them on SDGs, creating communities for holistic slum development and building a powerful tech platform (both mobile and web app) to facilitate slum livelihood generation, crowdsourced slum mapping and slum assessment.
By providing access to two, three and four-wheeler training and related livelihood opportunities in the mobility sector, MOWO Social Initiatives is empowering women to become financially independent and, at the same time, tackle socio-cultural barriers. In addition, MOWO is working on policy advocacy with local governments with a focus on gender equality.
Skilled Samaritan Foundation works towards providing steady income opportunities to women from marginalised communities. Working in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the Foundation understands and leverages the women’s existing craft skills, to make sustainable and ‘marketable’ products, made from local waste and salvaged materials. They create skills labs, provide design inputs & tech-based support, and access to domestic and global markets.
Indian Schools of Democracy (ISD) is a non-partisan organisation working on creating programmes to nurture principled grassroot politicians. It focuses on the development of personal leadership, relevant skills, mobilisation, public finance and building a community of peers and mentors for sustained and collective impact. A key highlight of ISD is its year-long executive programme – an incubator for people who are on their political journeys.
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