At the 6th AFI Annual Forum, we were fortunate to have a powerful cohort of young social entrepreneurs, an eclectic cohort of “influencers” drawn from various domains and a stellar line-up of keynote speakers and panelists. Living up to the theme of “Technology For Transformation”, this year’s Forum revolved around the role of technology in scaling social impact and multiple stakeholders were brought to the fore to present their perspectives and ideas. Some highlights of the Forum were:
Dr. Sam Pitroda has been our guiding force since AFI’s inception. He addressed the gathering over Skype and found it heartening to see the brightest minds make a conscious move to choose social entrepreneurship vs secure jobs. Emphasizing the need to build sustainable social businesses, he remarked, “Happiness is positive cash-flows” – one of the many insights he shared with the gathered social entrepreneurs.
Leading a contingent of scientists, Prof. Ramesh Raskar, who heads the Camera Culture Group at MIT Media Labs, elaborated on how REDX is a bottom-up innovation platform designed for addressing big challenges by following a peer-to-peer model.
Shri Anil Swarup (Secretary, School Education) shed light on how technology is being used to the hilt by the Department to improve learning outcomes. He remarked that technology is helping in creating transparency, something the people do not credit Governments with.
Mr. Anshu Gupta (Founder, Goonj..) delivered an eye-opening speech on his trysts with the ground realities in slums and underserved sections. He categorically stated that slums are not extensions of cities – they are extensions of the village into cities.
The three eminent Members of Parliament, Prof. Rajeev Gowda, Mrs. Meenakshi Lekhi and Mr. Baijayant Panda, graced the Forum with their candor, vision and technology-savviness. Talking of the role of technology, they elaborated their priority agendas and how the social entrepreneurs can complement State initiatives and vice-versa.
Speed-dating and Poster presentation by AFI 100 Social Entrepreneurs 2017- Explainer posters of the ventures of AFI 100 Social Entrepreneurs were installed. This session created a fertile ground for exchange of knowledge, generating leads, forging potential collaborations and gaining visibility.
Sector-Champions from the six key areas of Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, Energy, Livelihoods and FinTech, led six focused group discussions. Collective brainstorming followed presentation of a set of recommendations.
SILICON VALLEY CHALLENGE – 2017
For the last three years, five handpicked social enterprises are taken on a two-week all-expense-paid trip to Silicon Valley, for greater visibility and connects with the leading companies and investors. This year, from over 300 submissions, the final 10 start-ups offered tough competition to each other. The five winning start-ups are:
THE ROAD AHEAD
The last five years have been an interesting ride for us. The tremendous growth of the Indian social entrepreneurial ecosystem has been nothing short of a movement. And we have been proud witnesses to its ‘Genesis’. We all have a long way to go together and several unventured roads to tread. At the Forum this year, we unveiled a compendium of the ‘hows’, ‘whys’, ‘whats’ and ‘what next’ of the AFI journey. Do read it here.
P.S. If you missed being a part of the event or would like a quick refresher of what happened there, we are soon coming up with short video clippings of each session (here is the Forum Handbook containing the profiles of speakers & social enterprises).
YOU CAN FIND THE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE FORUM HERE AND A MORE DETAILED VERSION OF THE POST-FORUM UPDATE HERE.