Villgro: Sparking Sustainable Social Change in India

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Rithiksha's mother Divya noticed that her newborn child's Bempu bracelet, a low-cost infant temperature monitoring device, continued to beep through the night. Divya called the Bempu helpline and was advised to take Rithiksha to the hospital. There the baby made a full recovery after receiving complete care.

Hypothermia and infections serve as a major cause of infant mortality in India. Bempu's bracelet empowers mothers and other caretakers to prevent illness and death by better managing their newborns' temperatures.

Bempu’s Hypothermia detecting bracelet

Support for Innovative Solutions to Critical Problems

Bempu is one of over 130 transformative social enterprises incubated by Villgro, an India-based nonprofit organization. Social enterprises are now well regarded as an effective vehicle to achieve development objectives at scale because of their ability to use game-changing technologies, innovate, and employ sustainable practices.

Since its founding in 2001, Villgro has helped create successful, innovative and impactful social enterprises that focus on improving the ways that communities live and function. Villgro funds and incubates early-stage, innovative, for-profit social enterprises that significantly impact the lives of India's poor. Renowned NGOsource members such as the Lemelson Foundation, among others support programs at Villgro. In addition, Villgro has a global presence in Kenya, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Villgro provides enterprises with initial seed funding up to US$100,000. On top of that, they receive intensive mentoring, linkages to a variety of technical assistance services, and access to networks. After 18 to 36 months in incubation, most enterprises have commercialized inventions, hired employees, developed sales and marketing strategies, and raised their next round of venture funding. Villgro's program operates with the sustainable vision that the communities will then become stakeholders in their own growth.

NGOsource's Role

Villgro’s agritech startup Kamal Kisan’s low cost vegetable planter

Villgro first completed the equivalency determination (ED) certification process with NGOsource in October 2014 after one of Villgro's U.S.-based funders invited it to apply.

By working through our India-based partner, NASSCOM, NGOsource supported Villgro in its local time zone. Villgro additionally found itself with more access to flexible funding from U.S. grantmakers. Its ED has been renewed by three additional NGOsource member grantmakers since the initial ED in 2014.

NGOsource members — like Villgro's funders — find themselves with easy access to nearly 2,000 NGOs or nonprofit organizations in the repository. These grantmaker members benefit from the due diligence of others. When an NGO that they wish to fund has already been certified by another grantmaker member, they can receive ED certificates immediately for only $250.

Villgro has put the support of its funders to good use and will continue to help social entrepreneurs transform communities for years to come.

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Top photo: Villgro’s RISE programme