Sankalp Unconvention Summit 2014: the annual pilgrimage for the social enterprise community

Anurag Agrawal is Co-founder and CEO of Intellecap, a Hyderabad-based company that provides investment banking, research and consulting solutions to organizations that are tackling complex social and environmental problems. Founded in 2002, Intellecap works at the intersection of commerce and social good, and to date has worked with 60 clients in 15 countries. As Intellecap’s CEO, Agrawal is responsible for strategy, managing key client and investor relationships, and represents the management team on the Board of Directors of Intellecap as well as other group companies.

In a decade-long career, Anurag set up and built the investment banking business unit, played a key role in setting up I3N, an impact focused angel network for seed stage investments and has worked with most of the leading microfinance institutions in India. He spoke with SocialStory about the Intellecap organized Sankalp Unconvention Summit 2014, India’s leading social entrepreneurship conference being held in Mumbai on April 9, 10 and 11.


SS: Tell us about the new launches during SUS14?

AA: We will be launching Prism, which is an impact measurement rating tool for funds; while there are other tools to measure impact — for example, Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has done work on this side — what we found was that any standard measurement usually looked at outcomes for the fund rather than the sum of impact of investee companies. What are you doing at the time of making the investment that differentiates you from a mainstream fund? Is it investing in different geographies or investing early? We ran it as a pilot with five funds, we now plan to expand it to all Indian Impact Investment Council (IIIC) members and expand to other geographies. It is fairly detailed, with high-end analytics, pan-India data which covers all the major sectors like water, sanitation, health and financial inclusion.

We will release the ‘Impact Report’, which is a landscape study on impact investing, and talks about the players, what they have been doing, capital invested, characteristics of the sector and scale of operations. We looked at other reports on impact investing, but none that comprehensively captured everything. We sliced and diced the available data to collate the report.

Lastly, we have StartUp Wave, which is a virtual incubation platform for startups. There are many physical incubators, and there is incubation work in IITs/IIMs and metros. With StartUp Wave, we want to reach out to people in Tier 2 and 3 cities who don’t have access to such resources, courses, mentors, and service providers. This will replicate physical incubators and provide startups with a networking and resource centre.

SS: This year’s agenda is ‘Building a Global Dialogue on Inclusive Development: Exploring Impact through Business and Capital’- could you explain this?

AA: When we launched Sankalp five years ago, the focus was on enterprises and how to get capital for these enterprises by inviting impact investors and channelizing investments. Most of it was focused on India and on getting capital for these enterprises. Now we are looking at a broader set of people by getting corporates into the mix and making it a more inclusive business space that focuses on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and bottom-of-the-pyramid initiatives.

We want to convert this to a global summit. The action is happening in India, SOCAP (international conference focused on impact investing) is focused on impact investors. Sankalp is the largest representation globally in terms of enterprises. The plan is to get representation from the West, Asia and Africa, which are the largest markets outside of India where most social enterprises are mushrooming.

India is the place where global inclusive agenda has to be shared; the dialogue has to happen here. We will have more than 1000 delegates attending from 35 countries globally. These are all global influencers, we don’t know how many people we will get from the government because this is election time, and there will be cancellations. We will get various actors, enterprises, core investors, corporates and academicians. India is a global leader in terms of social innovation.

SS: What does the partnership with SOCAP entail?

AA: The idea broadly at Sankalp is engagement with enterprises, and the initial focus was to invite investors to participate. SOCAP mainly attracts impact investors. We are connecting the global North with global South by launching partnerships, innovative models, frugal innovation and looking at taking social enterprises to Western markets and Europe.

SS: Tell us about Sankalp Scholars and Sankalp Collaboration?

AA: The core of Sankalp is entrepreneurship, and Sankalp Scholars allows for early stage entrepreneurs who can’t afford travel, stay and registration fees to attend through a strategic partnership with Villgro. This is a way to democratize the development dialogue.

Sankalp collaboration is a series of workshops, where we invited ideas and picked up six to seven ideas. They get to hold panels at Sankalp. We also chose 20 volunteers to help with the event, which was a fairly extensive exercise with more than 100 applicants from across the world. We first tried this at Sankalp Africa. Those selected get to attend Sankalp at no cost. They are a committed and enthusiastic lot.

SS: How do you judge the impact of SUS?

AA: Sankalp is all about networks, but we personally judge final results on tangible outcomes, connections that were made and those that subsequently result in investments. We have a strategic MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to facilitate business engagements that may lead to business agreements between social enterprises and corporates.

We have organized breakfast meeting interaction with several educational institutions, which will deliberate on issues like placements, curriculum and funding for student entrepreneurs. There’s also another one around women.

SS: There are very many social entrepreneurship conferences — what makes SUS14 different?

AA: Global representation. There’s no other conference that so well represents the global social entrepreneurship community. The outcomes for Sankalp are designed with great care, the quality of debate is high, people getting together and launching different initiatives. IIIC was launched here and the seed of the National Association of Social Enterprises (NASE) was born here as well.

Sankalp is an action platform that involves ideation and connections; in addition, there is a lot of follow-on activity, this is not just an annual summit, there is plenty that happens across the year.

SS: This year there is an emphasis on the role of corporations — what about the government?

AA: Engagement with government happens only when you have scale, size and significance. If you are tiny, government won’t take notice. There are some sectors that the government has shown interest and wants to engage and we have been having a dialogue with them.
We have invited plenty of government representatives, but given the timing of the elections, we do not expect a lot of representation.

SS: This year SUS debuted in Africa? Are there any other countries planned?

AA: First, we want to consolidate India and Africa, and the focus in Africa has been in the Eastern region with social enterprises from 16 odd countries and representatives from 25 countries. We also have plans to expand to Southeast Asia by 2015.

SS: What is the biggest challenge in organizing SUS?

AA: The biggest challenge is to constantly reinvent and not become extinct by losing the USP. This can be done by evolving and bettering what we are currently doing. Secondly, given the scale and size of the event, we need to lock-in the anchor sponsorships early on. This is because we have already committed to the cost as we announce the dates a year in advance. We are a big brand globally, but converting that brand into actual funding is a challenge. The social enterprise space is a community of 20,000 people, the questions we ask ourselves is how we engage with them and add value.

About the author

Journalist with a keen interest in all things social entrepreneurship.

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