TiE Chennai in partnership with SVP India had organised a talk by Ravi Venkatesan, former Microsoft India Chairman and Infosys Board Member. Ravi talked about how Social Venture Partners (SVP) invests resources in nonprofits who are  poised to make a transformational impact at scale.

Ravi talked about:

  • Job/Education: 700 million in India border line poverty, 13 million come to job market every year. Organisations like Help In Hand, Head held High work with these people to get them a livelihood, do Micro entrepreneurship.
  • Artisans, encouraging handicraft is another focus area. Number of artisans in India range from 7 million and an upper limit of 200 millions, first time Govt ministry will be doing a survey to determine the number. 30% in last twenty years have been the last generation, Marketplaces like etsy are helping here, 30% increase in sales in next five years as world gets interested on these. Caravan craft are other firms working in similar area, you now can buy USB PenDrives with artwork designs that are handmade by artisans from countryside.
  • Agriculture is next focus area – people think there are too many farmers, somehow we think we need to get people out of farm to Urbans. We need to take work to where people live like Tripti.org (Targeted Rural Initiatives for Poverty Termination and Infrastructure) and Labournet.in.
  • Many of these social/non-profit organisations do their work in-house, it’s reinventing of wheel, extremely inefficient. There is no way they can scale with these informal processes, there can be a 30-50% cost savings possible if there is better coordination, collaboration and expert management available for them, that’s what SVP things about a lot.
  • In SVP’s regular meetings we often talk how about to get people in the room to get involved for civic action. We took one area of focus – Bangalore garbage problem; We sued corporation/local government to get their attention, then worked with them to come out with three solutions.


My son came along with me for the talk, Inspired by Ravi’s speech on social entrepreneurship he put forward a great question that got applause from the audience and a scholarship offer!!!. The question he asked (paraphrasing):

Scaling up farming puts pressure on forest lands, impacting wild life which in turn destroys tourism jobs, making the new jobs created in farming “job neutral” in totality. Instead can we encourage vertical farming using modern techniques

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