Tata Social Enterprise Challenge

Post golden jubilee celebration, IIM Calcutta has spread its wings on various new initiatives, the latest one being the responsiveness towards society in developing unique and cost-effective devices for our daily needs. IIM Calcutta, in association with Tata Group conducted the first ever Tata Social Enterprise Challenge (TSEC), which was held at IIM Calcutta during February 20 – 24, 2013. Tata Social Enterprise Challenge, organized jointly by IIM Calcutta and the Tata Group, aims to establish itself as a major event in the Indian social entrepreneurship space by bringing together social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and members from the academia, industry and business and the whole bunch of social entrepreneurs to identify and promote sustainable ideas that impact the social sector.

Greenway Grameen Infra (Mumbai) and Ottoclave (MIT, Boston) were the winners of this year’s event, winning prize money of Rs1.5 and Rs1 lakh respectively. The other eight teams that made it to the finals were Utopia, Vi-Care, Onergy, Doctors for You, Project Kayakalp, Sudiksha, SMV Wheels and MediAngels. Along with Prof. Ashok Banerjee, Dean (NI&ER), IIM Calcutta, the other jury in the Final included Mr. Joe Madiath, Founder, Gram Vikas, Dr. Amit Jain, Founder, E-Health Point, Mr. Murli Vullaganti, Co-Founder & CEO, Rural Shores, Mrs. Radha Basu, Co-Founder, Anudip Foundation, Mr. R. Ramaraj, Member of, Board of Governors, IIM Calcutta, Mr. Shubro Sen, Director, Tata Management Training Centre, Mr. P.R. Ganapathy, Chief Operating Officer, Villgro, Ms. Ritu Verma, Partner, Ankur Capital, Dr. Kulkarni, Director, Yunus Business Fund, Mr. Saurabh Lahoti, Investment Manager, Ennovent and Mr. Jonathan Mazumdar, Portfolio Associate, Acumen Fund. A brief profile of these projects is given below for a better understanding.

The Tata Social Enterprise Challenge saw more than 160 business plans being submitted from across the world including the US and Netherlands in areas such as education, healthcare, agriculture, environment and micro-finance. Of these, 20 business plans were shortlisted for the semi-finals wherein the teams received mentorship in two phases, first over the phone/email from experts in the social sector and subsequently, at IIM Calcutta from faculty, social entrepreneurs and social VC’s. At the end of the mentorship phase, all teams had the opportunity to pitch to social VCs, social entrepreneurs and faculty. The top 10 teams then made it into the finals in which Grameen Greenway Infra and Ottoclave emerged as the winners. All semi-finalists were also given the opportunity to receive mentorship and other support services at IIM Calcutta's upcoming incubation center. This year’s Tata Social Enterprise Challenge event culminated with a closing symposium which saw talks by eminent speakers in the social sector including Padma Bhusan Shri Devendra Mehta (Founder, Jaipur Foot) and Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham (Founder Jayshree Industries) amongst others. According to Professor Ashok Banerjee, the principal mentor of this event and the Dean of New Initiatives and External Relations at IIM Calcutta, "IIM Calcutta has always demonstrated its commitment for social cause. We are thankful to Tata Group for agreeing to collaborate with us in launching this event. Budding social entrepreneurs can contribute significantly in India's attempt for inclusive growth and IIM Calcutta along with the Tata Group are proud to be part of such endeavour. I strongly believe that the Tata Social Enterprise challenge will in near future become the biggest event in this space".

Brief Profile of these projects:

Greenway Grameen Infra

Greenway Grameen Infra designs and distributes modern, efficient home energy devices tailored to rural consumers. Our flagship product is the Greenway Smart Stove, an improved cookstove that burns biomass fuel (wood, cow dung, etc.) more efficiently, reducing fuel consumption by 65% and smoke emissions by 70%. India, 160 million households cook in rudimentary mud stoves or open fires with solid biomass fuels such as wood and cow-dung. This method of cooking is dangerous, emitting toxic smoke that causes 4 million premature deaths globally, each year. It is also expensive (wood must either be collected or paid for, wasting productive hours or draining family income) and inconvenient to users (creating soot-covered walls and requiring constant fire tending). The products are designed through co-creation with rural consumers and thus are able to provide an alternative to traditional cooking methods that is both effective and desirable


OttoClave is a nine-month-old startup founded by two MIT alums that works at the intersection of technology, design, and healthcare. Their mission is to improve health care access for the billion people living in areas with limited infrastructure around the world. OttoClave’s main product is an affordable autoclave that utilizes a common household item, a pressure cooker, and a talking cycle monitor that guides users throughout the process in the local language. Surgical Site Infections occur at an alarmingly high rate in resource-poor health clinics (30% versus 2-5% in resource-rich hospitals) and according to the WHO the main causes of this disparity are the lack of functioning autoclaves and the lack of trained personnel. OttoClave address this issue with affordable pricing, speech-enabled monitor that walks users through proper use every time, and a built in tutorial to standardize training. OttoClave also provides purchasing agencies with mobile software that allows them to effectively measure impact and monitor usage of devices in the field.


The BPL population finds it hard to survive with the rising costs these days. With no reliable job options the differently-abled people are relegated to the margins of the society and lives without due respect and dignity. The city roads are crowded with vehicles, fossil fuels are scarce and cause air and noise pollution; the villagers & poor find it hard to search potable water. City commuters avoid public transport as access and egress are the weakest links in a public transport chain. What links these situations is Utopia's initiative to organize the non-motorized sector to bolster the city transport and in turn provide jobs to BPL, differently abled, unskilled labour & semi-skilled labour. A special product of theirs “Aquasol” answers the potable water need of poor. Utopia will be a closed loop self reliant firm which will fulfil all its needs viz. Energy, R&D, sales, Design, support etc within itself.


Vi-Care - A one of its kind company in India- is on its way to provide a low cost solution to address the problem of high rural infant mortality due to pneumonia. Vi-Care’s focus lies on implementing a cost effective solution to timely detection of pneumonia in infants, keeping in mind the lack of healthcare infrastructure in rural areas. Vi-Care provides a unique diagnostic application (i-Treat) capable of performing preliminary but informative diagnosis of pneumonia without requiring any external infrastructure or expert intervention thereby greatly improving the chances of survival of infants in rural areas. Vi-Care's holistic model also involves the setting up of a centralized server that links up with all devices in a region through the cellular phone network. Its purpose is to assimilate diagnostic data from the whole region to facilitate statistical studies, and the easy monitoring of trends in the incidence of pneumonia.


SwitchON-ONergy is a hybrid social enterprise start-up creating an ecosystem for the uptake of complete energy solutions to rural India. ONergy is a ISO Certified (TUV) for-profit venture, setting up last mile energy distribution and service networks. ONergy serves the undeserved households and business by deploying solar LED lighting, solar electrification systems and cooking / thermal solutions, across East India. SwitchON is the not for profit arm that creates an ecosystem to facilitate last mile access to energy and promote livelihoods through rural energy entrepreneurship by training, capacity building and supporting innovation. They create a linkage between energy access, income generation and community development. ONergy in Numbers: SwitchON-ONergy has become a 30 Member strong team; set up 7 renewable energy centers across West Bengal and Odisha; and impacted the lives of over 100,000 people. The mission is to impact one million lives by 2016.

Doctors For You

Doctors For You (DFY) is a SAARC award winning humanitarian NGO in the health-care sector. DFY’s disaster relief and rehabilitation work has won it the British Medical Journal (BMJ) ‘Best Medical Team in Crisis Situation’ Award in 2011. DFY rolled out a project called DFY-MISP on a pilot basis (tie up with Tata Institute of Social Sciences) during Assam ethnic violence. DFY plans to spin-off this venture. DFY will deploy disaster relief teams in major Indian cities. These teams will respond to a disaster and provide primary relief & Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) within 48 hours. Revenue would be by branding MISP camps and by rolling out disaster preparedness & capacity building packages to corporates. MISP is a (UN-FPA recommended) co-ordinated set of priority activities used for the reproductive well-being of women in crisis situations. DFY customizes MISP to suit the Indian scenario thereby reduce maternal & infant mortality.

Project Kayakalp

In the outer reaches of New Delhi, lies the worn out slum of the Kathputli Colony. Its narrow lanes are home to talented artists, the jewels that adorn the Indian heritage: puppeteers, folk dancers, magicians etc. With the rapid onset of globalisation and their inability to tackle competition from modern forms of entertainment, they either live in dilapidated conditions, earning a living that is grossly disproportionate to their potential or give up the practice of their art in favour of more economically viable options resulting in fading away of the arts and cultures we are all so deeply proud of. Through KAYAKALP, Enactus SRCC has made a sincere effort to improve their conditions. By organizing them, marketing their talent and establishing sustainable work contracts, KAYAKALP wants the artists to realise their potential, earn a living that reflects the immeasurable value of the skills they possess and live a life of dignity.

Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions

Sudiksha establishes affordable quality pre-schools for children living at the bottom of pyramid segments in India. The schools are managed and run by women who are chosen from the same community where the schools exist. There are 100 Million children in India between 2-6 years-old, who are unable to receive even basic education due to various difficulties. Sudiksha is reaching out to those kids with its innovative pre-school model. Since 2011, Sudiksha has established six affordable quality schools in rural Andhra Pradesh and in 2012 it has established 12 ‘Sudiksha – Kids’ pre-schools in backward localities of Hyderabad. Sudiksha charges a very nominal monthly fee which can be easily afforded by the poor. Since 2011 Sudiksha has impacted the lives of 1500 underprivileged children and has provided employment to 80 community women. In 2013, Sudiksha will establish 20 more new affordable pre-schools in other backward localities of Hyderabad.

SMW Wheels Ltd.

SMV Wheels build on the ideals of asset based entrepreneurship by giving rickshaw drivers and cart operators the means to self-employment. They sell rickshaws and carts but give their customers an extended payment period of up to fifty four weeks. The provision of extended payment terms fills a critical gap in the market for their customers and gives them an alternative to costly daily rentals and, a chance at upward economic mobility. Payments equate to less than 15% of weekly income and include the cost of the rickshaw, insurance and license, operating costs and a c.10% margin. This bottom up pricing model allows SMW Wheels Ltd to recycle capital to new customers and fund expansion over time. Advertising space on the rickshaws is also sold to supplement repayment income. The vocational support that they provide includes legal licenses, insurance, uniforms, photo identity cards and access to no frills banking.

Angels Health Private Ltd

Medi Angels is the world’s first online hospital which envisages technology enabled provision of medical services for people such as internet and voice enabled platform. This first ever comprehensive healthcare solution envisions travel to physical hospital only for invasive tests/surgery. The service includes patient healthcare life cycle such as electronic & phone consultations with the world’s best doctors, blood tests & other diagnostics, annual health checks ups (technologically enabled), a world class electronic health records, a knowledge bank for consumers actively written by top doctors, and a radiology platform to integrate all radiology. This is a unique & disruptive innovation in healthcare delivery. Medi Angels has more than 350 of the world’s best medical specialists from over 93 specialties and from over 15 countries on its panel, making Medi Angels potentially the world’s most comprehensive medical panel.

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