Let me start be saying that we could not be happier to be partnered with such a game-changing organization – Village Capital, or VilCap for short. Though still only 3 years old, this high-powered 501(c)3 is truly democratizing entrepreneurship through its peer-led social enterprise accelerator programs.
By offering social entrepreneurs the chance to collaborate, evaluate, and critique one another they receive valuable, real-time assistance and mentorship from their peers and experienced professionals, not to mention access to capital which is pre-committee by Village Capital’s partners. What’s more is that Village Capital also uses the accelerator’s peer evaluation process to select and invest in 2 – 3 outstanding enterprises for its own portfolio. This is a win-win! Village Capital is able to divert funding from due diligence processes into seed-stage investments, and social entrepreneurs have increased access to capital.
VilCap just wrapped up its 3rd accelerator program in India with Dasra, a non-profit incubator that provides technical assistance to the most promising social entrepreneurs in the region. After an intensive 6 months, two enterprises stood out above the rest and are now part of the Village Capital portfolio: Waste Ventures and Simpa Networks.
Waste Ventures has created a market-based solution for the informal waste collecting sector in India, providing a livable wage for waste collectors and selling the refuse to compost, recycling, and solid waste management companies. What’s unique about Waste Ventures is that it has created a viable business benefitting the poorest of the poor in India, a feat that has been met with great difficulty in the past. In terms of impact, WV has already improved the livelihoods of 300 waste pickers and will be using the investment from Village Capital to expand their program to other cities.
Simpa Networks has developed a mechanism to make renewable home energy devices more affordable for consumers at the base of the pyramid. Their “pay as you go” system allows consumers to only pay for the renewable energy they consume right from their own mobile device. With 1,000 systems already in place, Simpa will use its investment from VilCap to expand beyond their pilot program.
These two ventures represent just a small slice of what makes up Village Capital’s portfolio of game-changing social enterprises. Other superstars from past accelerator programs include Quadrado Magico, an affordable e-learning company in Brazil; Rainsaucers, a rainwater-harvesting company that provides clean running water in Guatemala; Tastia, an “ebay” for local agriculture in London; and many more!
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