Rothschild Foundation Expands its Network of Social Enterprises in India

Swiss-based Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, a global network of venture philanthropy, is expanding its role in India. The foundation’s focus in India it to support Indian social entrepreneurs by helping them receive professional training and support.

The foundation’s CEO, Firoz Ladak, commented on their India focus, “We give roughly $15- $20 million a year. Next three years budgeted commitment for a $1 million for India." The foundation has already being piloting investments in India for the last two years. Ladak says that social entrepreneurship is emerging just the way microfinance did over two decades ago. For the Rothschild Foundation, the focus is very clearly on supporting social enterprises that are making a demonstrable social impact, and aiming at financial self-sustainability.

The foundation identifies such social enterprises and helps them build scale so that they become self-sustaining and gradually become free of charitable donations and government grants and subsidies. The foundation currently supports a network of social enterprises called Unlimited India. Through this network, it provides financial support to social entrepreneurs with promising ideas but lack of funding to implement those ideas.

Unlimited India serves as an effective platform for such social entrepreneurs where they can meet, exchange their ideas, explore solutions to common problems, train with each other, and receive expert advice from social consultants, financial experts and lawyers. The professionals who associated with Unlimited India provide their support pro bono. The program current supports about 50 social entrepreneurs from different parts of the country through this endeavor.

Financial support is provided to these social entrepreneurs, with loans in the range of $20,000 to $30,000, depending on the size and scale of the project. The recipients are identified on the basis of their promising projects and commitments, and it is pre-determined that the recipients are unable to receive funding from elsewhere due to a lack of credit history.

Ladak believes that the financial institutions and banking sector in India are not doing enough to promote these disadvantaged social entrepreneurs. The financial support through Unlimited India can help demonstrate the capabilities of these borrowers and provide them with a credit history when they pay back the loans to the lender.

The Economic Times

Photo Credit: k_vohsen