YSB and Upaya Social Ventures Join Forces

The 2022 Programme Supports Early-stage Businesses in India

February 28, 2023

Yunus Social Business (YSB) and Upaya Social Ventures (Upaya) announced the launch of their 2022 Accelerator Programme to help small and growing businesses (SGBs) in India scale and create jobs to lift people out of extreme poverty. YSB and Upaya bring together their combined expertise in building businesses to offer a programme that brings essential knowledge, capacity, and networks to early-stage entrepreneurs, equipping them with the tools to access investment, grow their ventures and build business resilience.

Millions of people in India have lost their livelihoods during the Covid-19 pandemic. The second wave alone accounted for 10 million job losses, as per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), and 87% of informal workers lost their livelihoods over 2020-21. Despite the challenges, small and growing businesses continued to provide hope for India’s socio-economic development by employing from and/ or catering to low-income and marginalised communities. On the road to recovery - to rebuild and resume normalcy - the case for supporting small and growing businesses is stronger than ever before. SGBs have always been major contributors to India’s socio-economic development, and are still in a unique position to fill the gap created by the pandemic through innovation and socially-driven business models.

United in the shared vision of creating scalable livelihood opportunities by supporting social businesses, YSB & Upaya have partnered to launch the 2022 Accelerator Program. The partnership aims to optimise both organisations' rich experiences and expertise to develop a rigorous, hands-on accelerator program for early-stage social businesses.

“Social businesses over the last year have faced severe hardships, despite which they have not drifted from their mission of sustainable job creation,” said Suresh K Krishna, Country Manager, Yunus Social Business India. “Creating jobs that are pandemic-proof will be the key to economic recovery, and YSB’s mission is to support social businesses creating these jobs via financial and non-financial support.”

YSB brings to this partnership its long-standing experience of financing and capacity-building of social businesses across India, East Africa, and Latin America as well as a global network of experts and mentors. Upaya has been running its accelerator program for six years and brings to the partnership its learnings and hands-on expertise in building investment-readiness capacity for early-stage businesses.

“At Upaya, we have always focused on growing the enterprises that have the highest potential to create jobs to lift families out of poverty,” said Kate Cochran, CEO of Upaya Social Ventures. “As we look to a post-Covid future, there is nothing more urgent than helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, so they can create jobs at scale, enabling individuals to earn dignified and reliable livelihoods.”

Both organisations work with early-stage entrepreneurs to create new jobs or livelihood opportunities for people in need, and, through the YSB & Upaya 2022 Accelerator, will position the cohort entrepreneurs to take on investment and scale their businesses. Taking place over five months, the programme unites industry experts, business leaders, and investors to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to access investment and grow their ventures. Participants will also receive tailored training in strategy, fundraising, investment readiness and impact management, as well as customised individual support from the Upaya and YSB teams.

“Upaya is thrilled to have joined hands with a mission-aligned partner in Yunus Social Business for the 2022 Accelerator Program,” said A B Chakravarthy, India Country Director at Upaya Social Ventures. Upaya and YSB have complementary expertise and networks to offer in nurturing and growing early-stage businesses. We believe that early-stage enterprises who are going to be part of the programme will immensely benefit from the global perspectives and India experience that both organisations possess.”

As part of the program, entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors. Up to three participating enterprises have received the opportunity to raise USD 50,000 from Upaya. In addition, YSB has screened participating businesses for a potential debt investment of up to USD 150,000.

The Upaya & YSB 2022 Accelerator cohort consisted of 8 to 12 entrepreneurs who are leading early-stage enterprises in India that are focused on creating livelihood opportunities for people living in extreme poverty. The selection criteria identified revenue-generating for-profit companies that show traction and market potential but have raised no more than USD $50,000. Through the accelerator, the companies have shown real potential in scaling and creating 1,000 jobs over seven years.

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