It’s hard to believe that’s January 2013 is already nearly coming to a close. Be! Fund-Karnataka is about one and a half years old and Be! Fund- Maharashtra has just celebrated its six-month birthday. So having rolled up our sleeves and put in a lot of hard work to find and invest in young entrepreneurs across India, where are we now?
In 2011, we invested in four entrepreneurs to start businesses in plastic recycling, rooftop farming, farmer transportation and garment manufacturing employing people who are differently-abled. These men were the first of many hero entrepreneurs to come. In 2012, we invested in 12 more entrepreneurs, including 9 women, to solve problems with local enterprise solutions such as solar products, urban biogas, rural diagnostic laboratory, compostable Areca nut leaf plates, and many more.
So we’re celebrating birthdays for new businesses, entrepreneurs and many ‘success days’ for every challenge met.
Yellawa has now taken her specialty pickle business to scale and has created three jobs for young women from her Dalit community. She is a role model for local women proving that even the youngest can run their own successful and innovative businesses. Mageshwari created 60 solar lanterns to enable over 750 children to study in tuition centers in KGF villages and brought light to over 100 nearby homes. And Mallaiah helped save lives by diagnosing dengue fever at its earliest stages at his rural diagnostic lab, making the best medical diagnostic services available to those living in rural areas far away from city hospitals.
But as we’ve also learned this year, as an early stage entrepreneur there will certainly be challenges along the path to building a sustainable business. Jayanthi, who creates beautiful candles from recycled church wax, lives in a slum with contaminated water often making her daughters and mother fall sick. Radhakrishna, who takes farmers to market in his truck, recently got in a small car accident on the road, causing minor damage to his vehicle (he was fine!) and putting him off of the road, and therefore deliveries, for one month.
Whether 2012 was mostly filled with successes or challenges to overcome, each of these entrepreneurs came to us with a solid business idea that would solve a problem in his or her community and the daring to board the entrepreneurial roller coaster to success.
2012’s entrepreneurs span the age group from 20 to 35 years old; they received investments ranging from Rs. 28,000 – Rs. 430,750 ($560 – $8,615); they live in urban slums and rural villages. Be! Businesses are unique to the entrepreneurs running them and the communities and people they serve. But all of our entrepreneurs have one thing in common—the commitment to establishing and managing innovative businesses to solve problems in the communities in which they live.
They are our heroes.