Social enterprise Incubator Villgro invests in three Indian start-ups

Social enterprise Incubator - Villgro, formerly known as Rural Innovations Network, is a Nonprofit organisation that focuses on spotting, mentoring and incubating innovations that have maximum potential to change lives, in Rural India. The Incubator has invested in three Indian startups - Ujjeewan Healthcare (West Bengal), Aindra Systems (Bengaluru) and Scholowiz Educational Solutions (Mumbai), all are early-stage start-ups.

Ujjeewan is Raniganj, West Bengal based startup which provides telemedicine and primary medical services in West Bengal under the brand 'Healthypariwar'.

Scholowiz is Mumbai-based startup, which provides professional development programmes for teachers, is at pre-revenue stage. It has completed a pilot programme in eight schools and use the fund to strengthen it solutions.

Aindra is Bengaluru-based startup which is developing a device that can be deployed at low cost to assist with screening and detection of cervical cancer among women. The project is at the proof-of-concept stage and Aindra plans.

Villgro is targeting to invest in 25-30 more social startups by the end of the fiscal year. The incubator is launching an early-stage social impact fund by March 2015 with an initial corpus of Rs 20 crore, primarily to support its incubation work. "We've received commitment for a little over 50 per cent of the fund size and looking to make up the balance," said chief operating officer PR Ganapathy.

The new investments range between Rs.6-8 lakh, to be used to scale up businesses. Villgro will work with these startups to build business models and go-to market strategies around their ideas. "If they hit certain milestones, we can fund them with up to Rs 65 lakh over three years," Ganapathy said.

Villgro hasn't taken any equity stake in these startups because of legal constraints on them as notfor-profit with foreign contributions.

Villgro was founded by social entrepreneur Paul Basil, with the backing of 'Ashoka: Innovators for the Public' and support of Rockefeller Foundation, Villgro began its journey in the year 2001 and has till date incubated over 43 innovations.

Villgro has integrated the programmes previously offered (Entrepreneur-In-Residence, SEED) into a more comprehensive incubation service. This allows Villgro to provide longer-term and more strategic support to each enterprise that the incubator incubate. For social startups in India to apply for being incubated at Villgro, apply here.

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