Bain India hosts fourth annual social entrepreneurship competition

As one of Bain’s most innovative platforms for social change, Seeds of Hope has disbursed over $15,000 in seed funding to seven diverse projects in the past four years. Here, Mehak and Rohanjit explain how the competition works and the results of the initiative.

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Back in 2011, when social entrepreneurship emerged as a buzzword in business and philanthropic institutions, Bain India decided to go a step further to make the idea more meaningful for its employees. The office was brimming with Bainies who had sustainable ideas for social impact and who were more than willing to get their hands dirty to make a difference. To encourage them, we launched the ‘Bain Seeds of Hope’ competition – a seed funding initiative for social impact projects led or managed by Bainies.

The process is simple – Bainies are encouraged to team up and present their idea through a set of slides  (a language they understand best!). The ideas are judged by a jury of partners and managers, on themes such as idea articulation, impact, sustainability and execution readiness. The winning teams are awarded seed funding of ~$2000 –  a small but sufficient contribution to make a meaningful difference in an Indian context. The teams regularly update the organizing team on their progress, and even share their experiences with fellow teams.

The success of the program has been remarkable. Now in its fourth year, the competition has evaluated ~30 projects, involving 75+ Bainies across 3 Bain offices in India. Seeds of Hope has disbursed over ~$15,000 in seed funding to 7 winning projects catering to socially diverse communities. Some of these include:

– Blood connect: A student blood collection initiative that has conducted ~20 blood donation drives across 7 cities and saved 4500+ lives

– Akshar (Meaning ‘Alphabet’ in Hindi): A dual objective initiative where marginalized communities run a paper recycling business. It has increased income per month by ~90% (from $50 to $96) for 10 people and recycled 70+ tonnes of paper

– Azmat (Meaning ‘Respect’ in Hindi): A project to abolish manual scavenging through construction of formal toilets and by re-organizing manual scavengers into a detergent making micro enterprise. The project has successfully increased income by 6X and enabled the construction of 120+ toilets

– The YP Foundation: A pilot project that helps to secure better access to education and health for 150+ slum children ensuring a 0% drop-out rate in formal education

As someone who has won the grant and then moved on to be a part of the program management team in India, I feel the experience has been rewarding. To get senior managers to listen to your ideas, and then ask you about its progress in cafe breaks a month later, makes you feel that your efforts outside work are appreciated. And in the end, we learn from these experiences to make the process of doing good easier each year!

These success stories have been inspirational in their potential to change lives, and we hope that we can continue to be a part of them in the years to come!

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