We mentor, fund and incubate early-stage, innovation-based, for-profit social enterprises in health and life sciences.
In 2015, India-based Villgro Innovations Foundation, a nonprofit incubator that has operated for over twenty years, expanded into Africa by launching an incubator for early-stage businesses in healthcare and life sciences in Nairobi. In India, Villgro works with early-stage, for-profit social enterprises across sectors including education, health, energy and agriculture, but in Kenya it is focused on digital health solutions. The company offers mentoring and funding to startups from across East Africa. “Villgro Kenya spearheaded the replicating of the Villgro model in Kenya and East Africa,” says Robert Karanja, cofounder and CEO of Villgro Kenya.
The organization’s mission is to harness the power of innovation and social entrepreneurship to lift marginalized communities out of poverty. It mentors, funds and incubates early-stage, innovation-based, for-profit social enterprises in the health and life sciences sector, and has so far incubated sixteen social enterprises in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Villgro Kenya has invested over $1.5 million in catalytic seed capital and technical assistance to realize over $1 million in revenue, unlocking $7.1 million of follow-on impact capital and impacting over a million lives in the region.
Alongside financial investment, it uses a broad network of mentors and advisors, as well as in-house expertise, to provide technical support. This includes product development, accounting and financial advice, investment readiness and fundraising. Villgro Kenya helps to support early-stage social enterprises move beyond the technical proof-of-concept stage, assisting them in developing commercial proofs of concept and commercializing their innovations. “Our theory is that social impact can best be achieved and scaled through sustainable, market-driven mechanisms of frugal innovation plus social entrepreneurship,” says Robert.
- Have social impact.
We look for companies targeting the bottom of the economic pyramid as their key market.
- Have a strong founding team.
Your team must be multidisciplinary and have at least one cofounder engaged full-time in building the venture.
- Be innovative.
Think frugal innovation that meets industry quality at a fraction of market costs.
- Show sustainability.
We look for viable, for-profit business models that have the scope to scale.
Applications can be sent via:
Main photo by Peter Irungu