Five Social Entrepreneurs Impacting India Among 14 in the 2016 GSBI Investor Showcase

Pollinate Energy trains and empowers local entrepreneurs to establish sustainable micro-businesses that provide clean energy solutions to India's urban slums. Photo courtesy of Pollinate Energy.

Pollinate Energy trains and empowers local entrepreneurs to establish sustainable micro-businesses that provide clean energy solutions to India's urban slums. Photo courtesy of Pollinate Energy.

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More than a dozen social entrepreneurs throughout the world, including five with ties to India, will pitch their business plans to a roomful of investors during the 2016 Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s Global Social Benefit Institute Investor Showcase at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif.

The showcase comes six months after the 14 social entrepreneurs — ranging from countries including India, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar and Rwanda — began working individually with Silicon Valley executive mentors to hone their business plans.

The five companies looking to tackle issues in India include Awaaz.De, CareNx Innovations Pvt. Ltd., engageSPARK, Noora Health and Pollinate Energy.

Awaaz.De, co-founded by Neil Patel and Tapan Parikh, develops inclusive mobile solutions that enable organizations to achieve last-mile connectivity for social impact. It develops customizable mobile technology solutions for its 500,000-plus users in six countries.

Patel believed communications platforms driven by basic phones and the medium of voice could overcome basic barriers of literacy and language to both disseminate content and collect data.

Parikh helped push him to start a company to scale the impact the system could have in rural communications.

CareNx, founded by Shantanu Pathak and Aditya Kulkarni, develops technologies to quickly deliver healthcare services to remote patients using mobile platforms.

One product, CareMother, offers mobile pregnancy care through its portable solar-powered kit along with an app, which can be used by health workers for early diagnosis of high-risk pregnancies.

To date, the company has sold dozens of kits to hospitals, performed 10,000 tests, reached more than 60 villages and cared for more than 3,000 mothers.

engageSPARK, founded by Ravi Agarwal and Avner Mizrah, is an easy-to-use platform for non-government organizations and businesses to engage their customers in any country using Voice IVR and two-way SMS interactions. With no technical expertise required, organizations can build and launch interactive campaigns in minutes.

They allow for organizations to instantly get local inbound phone numbers for receiving calls and SMS messages.

The company's vision is a world where any motivated person has the economic opportunities they need to step out of poverty and reach for their dreams.

It boasts it will build a conglomerate of nonprofits that directly or indirectly impact the lives of the poor. These businesses, it added, will sell products, provide services, and create fair jobs.

Noora Health, founded by Katy Ashe, trains marginalized patient families with high impact health skills to improve outcomes and save lives.

By turning waiting rooms into classrooms and nurses into trainers, Noora Health sends families home from hospitals and clinics with the skills they need to succeed with their condition.

All told, the company has trained roughly 50,000 family members and activated 25 hospitals.

Its impact has been felt by those people, as well, with about a 24 percent reduction in re-admissions, 6 percent reduction in anxiety and 36 percent reduction in post-surgical complications, it said.

Pollinate Energy, founded by Emma Colenbrander, Alexie Seller and four others, trains and empowers local entrepreneurs to establish sustainable micro-businesses that provide clean energy solutions to India's urban slums.

They provide employment opportunities for locals while improving quality of life in slum communities.

By transitioning families from kerosene to solar, they improve health and safety, create work opportunities, save money, improve study conditions for children, reduce carbon emissions and dramatically ease the burden of women’s household tasks.

Its impact in India includes nearly 16,000 systems installed, which has benefitted roughly 72,224 people. It has serviced about 2,000 communities, saving roughly 86.5 million rupees, 1.64 million liters of kerosene and 3.96 million kgs of CO2 emissions.

An invite-only event, the fourth annual GSBI Accelerator Investor Showcase Supports President Barack Obama’s and Pope Francis’ social entrepreneurship efforts.

The hope behind the social entrepreneurs is to tackle some of the world’s challenges. This year’s event comes just months since President Obama hosted the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, where he talked about similar objectives. Additionally, Pope Francis led the second Vatican Impact Investment Conference in June, which aims to bridge the worlds of impact investing and Catholic social ministries serving the poor, according to a SCU statement.

“Miller Center is aligned with the goals of both the Obama administration and the Vatican conference, supporting social entrepreneurs who are striving to solve the world’s largest problems — the elimination of poverty, the advancement of women and girls, and climate resilience in the face of global climate change,” said Miller Center executive director Thane Kreiner. “Hosting the GSBI Accelerator social entrepreneurs here in Silicon Valley is significant because this region has that special ‘jet fuel’ for entrepreneurs that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Miller Center puts special emphasis on social enterprises working to empower poor women and girls – particularly those in areas affected by climate change. Of the social enterprises in this year’s GSBI Accelerator cohort, eight are women-led or specifically benefit women, and six focus on resilience to climate change.