Kanika Kumar and Dipika Prasad

Building an India-Africa Pipeline Part 3 : Six exciting expansions to add to your watch list

In our ongoing series with NextBillion, we have explored the Africa-India Innovation Transfer and shared our insights on the startup ecosystem from expanding Sankalp Forum into Africa. In our third article in this series, we’re profiling six pioneering organizations that will expand across the regions in the near future. We hope these expansions and the resulting knowledge will form a foundation for others to build upon.

? From Africa to India

1) Bridge International Academies

Bridge (pictured above) is the world’s largest chain of pre-primary and primary schools, working to bring world-class education to the BoP. Thanks to its “Academy-in-a-Box” approach, which includes everything from how academies are built to how teachers are selected and trained, and how lessons are delivered and monitored, Bridge is able to standardize and scale delivery of high-quality education, reducing costs along the way.

Bridge has more than 250 academies in Kenya educating 80,000 pupils at an average cost of US$ 6 a month. Bridge will be expanding operations to India shortly.

Why India?

“India is nation with a passion for education in general, and where there is a now a commitment to ensuring that every child has access to not only a classroom, but a true learning experience. An estimated 300,000 low-cost private schools exist. However, similar to Kenya, there remains a large unmet need regarding the quality of the education offered to families living on less than $2 a day per person. Currently, no large scale organization exists which can guarantee world-class teaching through innovative pedagogical models, intensive measurement and evaluation. Bridge’s planned expansion into India is an opportunity to leverage our large resources in developing extremely high-quality curriculum, assessment, technology, and monitoring platforms to radically improve the quality of education at an extremely low price for hundreds of millions of families across India.”

– Shannon May, co-Founder, Bridge International Academies

2) SimGas

SimGas designs and manufactures biogas systems for sub-tropical regions. They install small-scale systems that convert manure and organic household waste into methane gas that can be used for cooking and lighting. The SimGas rural biogas system is designed to be modular and expandable and is installed as a turn-key system at a household.

SimGas was recently shortlisted for the SIEMENS Stiftung Empowering People Award. It will be expanding operations to India in 2014.

Why India?

“With our biogas products now being sold to happy customers in Kenya and Tanzania, SimGas is ready for its next giant leap: India. India is a country of great opportunity for us. First of all the market for domestic biogas is enormous and dairy livestock holders are very well organized, making it a logical market to bring a mass produced biogas system to its fruition. Secondly, although India is moving ahead rapidly, there are still a lot of struggles in the energy sector, making a locally produced energy source highly valuable for low income households and the country at large. Finally, we think that we can learn a lot in India as well and apply that back in East Africa to improve our services there.”

Sanne Castro, CEO, SimGas

3) SCOPEInsight

SCOPEInsight is an independent rating agency that enables agricultural investment through scoring the business potential of producer organizations that would otherwise be excluded from the mainstream banking system. The firm profiles organizational performance and offer business partners a gateway to agricultural information and opportunities.

It has made more than 230 assessments across emerging markets and are currently exploring opportunities in India.

Why India?

“Professionalizing the agricultural sector is of the utmost importance for the development of India’s economy as a large number of producer organizations are not financially sustainable. SCOPEinsight’s approach for improving access to finance through agricultural credit ratings can function as a crucial tool that supports many stakeholders in the agri-finance sector. Currently, SCOPEinsight is finalizing a pilot project in India, where the SCOPE tool is tested by using it as input for strengthening the capacity of producer organizations as well as obtaining interest from financial institutions. We are looking forward to further developing and implementing our strategy in this exciting country”

Marise Blom, general manager SCOPEinsight

? From India to Africa

4) iKure

iKure is a technology-enabled primary health care service provider. The venture manages affordable rural health care centres, and has developed a cloud based technology, WHIMS, that links the health centres with tertiary hospitals for real-time consultation and escalation. The system also operates in communities with low Internet speeds.

Having set up 10 rural Healthcare Centres of its own, it aims to grow to 400 centres in the next four years with plans to expand to Africa.

Why Africa?

“iKure’s solution caters to rural markets and fits very well in a hub-and-spoke model where the availability of doctors is a scarcity. Using its innovative technology solution, iKure helps doctors in cities to remotely monitor patients in far flung areas. It helps monitor patients up to the last mile even where there is no internet or electricity. Several African countries have similar problems as prevalent in India, and iKure sees a great opportunity to expand its solutions there. We are confident that iKure’s model will help millions of people in Africa access quality primary healthcare within the community.”

– Sujay Santra, founder and CEO, iKure

5) Uniphore

Uniphore designs and delivers mobility service applications that connect businesses with their customers and employees in real time. Their solutions integrate speech recognition and voice biometrics with smart mobile technology to deliver an efficient, end-to-end solution on the cloud.

Its patented technology supports 3 million users every month across industries like microfinance, agriculture, healthcare, education and others. Uniphore is in early stages of rolling out a pilot in East Africa.

Why Africa?

“Expansion into Africa is a natural next step for Uniphore because of the rapidly expanding market for enterprise mobile solutions. As an Indian company, Uniphore has a keen understanding of many of the service delivery challenges faced by African enterprises, such as low levels of literacy and a largely rural population… We are confident that we can help African enterprises to leverage speech and mobile technologies in order to capture value and deliver innovation to achieve business and social impact.”

– Umesh Sachdev, co-Founder and CEO, Uniphore

6) Villgro

Villgro works to inspire, mentor, fund and incubate innovation-based social enterprises that have a deep social impact on the lives of India’s poor. Since 2001, Villgro has incubated 94 such enterprises, generated around 3,800 jobs, secured INR 200 million in follow-on funding, and touched over 5 million rural lives.

Villgro is one of India’s oldest and foremost social enterprise incubators, and is looking to grow to Africa. To do so, Villgro plans to partner with those wanting to start-up a social enterprise incubator in Africa.

Why Africa?

“We are very excited about the opportunity to grow to Africa and support social enterprises there. Africa has always had close ties with India and this incubation partnership will strengthen Indo-African relationships. We are looking forward to it.”

Paul Basil, founder and CEO, Villgro

Most of the organizations listed here will be participating at the Sankalp Africa Summit in Nairobi on Feb.12-13. In our next and concluding article in this series, we will explore why the world should look to Africa for leadership in inclusive development.

This article was complied by Kanika Kumar and Dipika Prasad of Intellecap.

Social Enterprise
impact investing, social enterprise