A micro-social venture capital fund, Gazaab Social Ventures identifies rural entrepreneurs and equips them with essential business skills and some technology knowledge to start their own business. It then implements a streamlined investment process based on a profit-sharing agreement – an approach that results in a sustainable organisation with a social impact that has scale-up possibilities.
Based in Nepal, Gazaab Social Ventures was established last year by two students – Jamon Mok and Akash Gurung – from the Singapore Management University. “It was set up with the goal of becoming a self-sustaining social enterprise, where profits are generated to cover basic business operations and fullfill long-terms goals of reaching out to more rural entrepreneurs in impoverished communities,” says one of its founders, Jamon Mok.
The sustainable for-profit fund is essentially an extension of a philanthropic project called Project Gazaab that was started by Mok in 2009. As part of the overseas community service project, students from the University conducted business competitions in rural areas in Nepal and India, and awarded the winners with seed money to kick-start their own business.
“I realised that Project Gazaab’s not-for-profit model would not be operationally sustainable and would not allow us to scale our work to have a greater social impact, “ Mok explains.
“The difference now with Gazaab Social Ventures is that the seed money is given in the form of an investment and the entrepreneurs share the profits of their business with us, Mok points out. “A portion of the shared profit goes into supporting a local community initiative and the remainder is re-invested into another rural entrepreneur,” he adds.
A participant of the Gazaab programme pitching his business plan
Motivate, Educate, Compete
Gazaab incorporates a of series programmes with the aim of unlocking the potential of rural entrepreneurs, stimulating their productivity, and ultimately spurring them to start a business.
“Our two-week programme is divided into three categories – Inspire, Equip and Gauge,” says Mok. In the Inspire section, case studies of successful village entrepreneurs are demonstrated through short films or TED videos in hopes of inspiring the participants to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, he explains. In the second section, basic business concepts are introduced, such as business plan writing, marketing strategies, and accounting principles. Mok adds that the participants also get trained in presentation and speaking skills.
“We also introduce solar power and biogas technologies, among others,” says Mok. “There is a series of exercises to help the participants understand the basic technology concepts,” he elaborates. According to Mok, these are appropriate technologies that the entrepreneurs can leverage to create a viable business as well as address some problems in their community.
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