SPEAKER: Ms Neelima Mishra| Founder, Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan

Date & Venue: 9th June 2017 at Gokhale Institute


Neelima Mishra, a social worker from the state of Maharashtra is a post graduate in psychology from University of Pune. She set up the Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan Trust in 2005 in her home village of Bahadarpur in Jalgaon which primarily helps women in rural areas through micro financing. Over the years, her trust has helped set up many women’s SHGs and provided aid to farmers. Her being an agent of change has been recognized world over and she got the Ramon Magsaysay award in 2011. Recently, in 2013 she was awarded the Padma Shri for her social work.

Neelima Mishra delivered a speech about ‘Scaling up Social Enterprise’ recently at the Bodhi Tree in Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, as part of a lecture series organised by Pune International Centre’s Social Innovation Forum

Also present were Prakash Apte, head of Syngeta India, who chaired the session, Pradeep Lokhande, founder of Gyan Key Library, who acted as moderator and Prashant Girbane, Honorary Director, PIC, Mugdha Lele, Social Innovations manager, Venture Center.


She introduced us to the concept of scaling up from the aspect of not just quantity but also quality. About motivation being the crucial factor in the process of scaling up.  There can be contributions to problem solving from different aspects – there are sponsors, then people who’re involved in field work, people who actively work towards making a difference etc. She highlighted the importance of starting out irrespective of the fact whether you have money or not; its important to have compassion and be committed towards your cause, money will follow. She also emphasized on not losing tempo as you progress with your startup, its important to maintain the energy as you grow even when money comes in.

She spoke about how the organization has planned out their program to alleviate rural people over a period of 27 years in 3 phases of 9 years each. They recognized that though education could be a vital tool in problem solving – it doesn’t solve the problem right now..and if problems right now aren’t solved, its very difficult to plan for future modifications. The rural people had problems to which money was a practical solution most of the time, they were even willing to return money with interest over a period of time..the major obstacle being the fact that they did not get loans from banks due to lack of credit. The Bhagini Nivedita Bank started Self Help Groups which would provide money to families’ condition to a set of rules. The bank used to borrow from money lenders initially. Since, the people were very prompt in returning the money, this made the platform viable and sustainable. A very valid point she raised while designing a social enterprise is that we should design solutions for people taking into account what the people (for whom the solutions are designed for) want. They often have indigeneous knowledge which makes for more practical solutions to their daily problems.

Speaking about the Self Help Groups (SGH), Mishra said, “We don’t give the women any money, we ask them what they can do and what they need to do. They were the ones who suggested sewing quilts and clothes and asked for computer and embroidery classes. They want to learn more, they want to grow.” The SHG she set up gets orders for quilts made by the women from Australia, England and USA. Around 100 women became computer literate. And they have a successful textile business, making around 6,000 kurtas per month, all from scrap material.

She gave some insight on the poor conditions of farmers in the country. As far as the plight of farmers is concerned, Mishra believes that there is no immediate solution.

“The public thinks that farmers have received a benefit, so the problem is resolved. But if one need is fulfilled, hundreds spring up. Loans should be given taking into the account the particular needs and abilities of each farmer. When it doesn’t rain for one year, a farmer is set back 3 years.”

She spoke about the contribution of Caring Friends foundation from Pune and Mumbai in helping institutes around the country in solving rural problems. The importance of incentives in getting rural communities to accept technologies/solutions was talked about, for eg, Gappa Sandas(chat toilets which serve dual purpose) so that women use toilets atleast with the objective of getting the privacy to share their day to day woes. Another example was how the highly prevalent problem of anaemia in rural women was solved by giving them a diet chart to follow, on showing results these farmers were given loans to improve their farming.

The lecture was concluded on the note that needs are generated in a domino effect like phenomena where fulfilling each need generates a dozen more. It doesn’t do to get satisfied by starting social work or contributing in a hassle free, minimal manner. Ms Mishra feels that zero work has been done because there are still many more basic necessities to be fulfilled, awards aren’t a parameter, they don’t make you big so they shouldn’t affect the intensity with which you work.

About Author – Aishwarya Nair, BIRAC Social Innovation Immersion  Programme Fellow at Venture Center, Pune

Insights into the Innovation Journeys of Entrepreneurs: VIVIRA Process Technologies Pvt. Ltd. – Dr. Vivek V. Ranade

About Entrepreneur –
Vivek Vinayak Ranade (born 1963) is an Indian chemical engineer, entrepreneur and a professor of chemical engineering at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of the Queen’s University, Belfast. He is a former chair professor and deputy director of the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune. He is known for his work on bubble column, stirred and trickle-bed reactors and is an elected fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy. and the Indian National Academy of Engineering. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the apex agency of the Government of India for scientific research, awarded him the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, one of the highest Indian science awards for his contributions to Engineering Sciences in 2004. I have also cofounded a technology start-up, VIVIRA Process Technologies Pvt Ltd which is being incubated at NCL Venture Centre, Pune.

About VIVIRA Process Technologies Pvt. Ltd. –

VIVIRA is a spin-off based on NCL’s technology. The Start–up plans to develop a novel and patent protected vortex diode based cavitation device (VodCa®) for enhancing bio-gas yield and throughput of anaerobic digesters.

  • In-particular, prove the concept for biological digesters used in distillery industries (enhance throughput per m3 of digester and gas yield per m3 of spent wash by 20%).
  • Applications to several agri- and marine- biotech industry.

Meeting’s Takeaway –

  1. VIVIRA is working on hydrodynamic cavitation technology for enhancing bio-gas yield and throughput of anaerobic digesters. The vortex diode uses hydrodynamic cavitation to convert part of COD from spent wash and convert it to easier to digest form for microbes in anaerobic digesters. The vortex diode also helps in increasing the nutrient contents of the spent wash thereby enhancing the productivity of microbes. Finally, the effluent from digester can be treated further to reduce its COD content.
  2. industrial effluent waste is main challenge because type of effluent varies from industry to industry. So, it is hard to build a one common solution. They need optimize solution for different effluent waste.
  3. Before building any technology, we should look for customers; who is your customer?
  4. Selection of problem is THE most important thing.
  5. Try to answer – why people are not accepting your technology and then rethink.


About Author – Pramod Bhurji, BIRAC Social Innovation Immersion  Programme Fellow at Venture Center, Pune

CMR Institute of Technology Session, Bangalore

During our Immersion visit to Bangalore, we went to CMR Institute of Technology to meet Prof. Phani Kumar Pullela on 14th June 2017. There we interacted with Prof. and his PhD students.

Dr Phani Kumar Pullela, professor at the CMR Institute of Technology was awarded with “Biotech Product, Process Development and Commercialization Award for year-2017” by former President Pranab Mukherjee. His goal is to empower students to win awards, create products and start companies.

He organised a half day workshop on Design Thinking with his students and SIIP fellows. Design Thinking is a design methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems. The regular innovation process consists of 4 stages – ideate, define, design and develop. These stages have to be synced efficiently so as to foster innovation in an organization. On the other hand, design thinking process has 5 stages- empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.

He briefly talked about sanitation, Bellandur lake problem and waste management. So far, we don’t have any solution to recycle waste tyres, double layer plastic and sanitary pads & diapers.

After workshop, we were divided into four groups and given four problems and asked to find out probable viable solutions to solve problem by applying design thinking tools. It was very good exercise.

Post session, we had nice lunch in CMRIT cafeteria with Prof. and his students.



About Author – Pramod Bhurji, BIRAC Social Innovation Immersion Programme Fellow at Venture Center, Pune

Saahas, Bangalore

Saahas was registered as a not- for- profit under the Society’s Act in 2001. The not-for-profit focuses on building capacities of public institutions like the Municipal Corporation as well as support progressive policies around waste management.

Challenge –

Bangalore is fast on its way to becoming a dumping ground for waste. It generates municipal solid waste to the tune of an astounding 4000 tonnes a day and the highest quantum of e-waste in India at 50 tonnes a day. Despite government regulations and guidelines on waste handling and management, there exists a huge disconnect between policy and practice. Individuals and organizations are grappling with fundamental issues such as lack of understanding, resources and experience to implement good waste management practices. Realizing the gravity of the situation and with the objective of driving environmental and behavioural change, Sahaas was born in 2001.

Business Model –

Having started as a non-profit organization, Saahas’ initial role was to create awareness and motivate communities to adopt waste management practices.  However, they realized that while organizations intended to act upon the conviction, they lacked the platform and understanding to implement waste management. Today, Sahaas is a registered private limited company that provides professional waste management solutions and services to industries, companies, schools, communities and apartments across Bangalore.

Through the Zero Waste Programme they operate on site solutions for bulk waste generators including tech parks and residential complexes. For smaller generators, they offer holistic waste management which includes collection and process at Kasa Rasa waste processing center

In the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program, they partner with packaging companies and E-Waste producers to develop and implement a reverse logistics mechanism that facilitates in bringing back bulk volumes of waste into the recycling chain.

Products –

  1. PolyAl roofing sheets made from recycled Post Consumer Tetra Pak Cartons (With Aluminium layer on one side)
  2. Chipboard made from recycled post-consumer Tetra Pak Cartons – a good alternative to conventional plywood
  3. Gifting products made from recycled chipboard
  4. eWaste bin made from chipboard
  5. Stationery items like customised books, pens, A4 reams for printers, visiting cards etc
  6. C-Folds and Tissue rolls made from recycled post-consumer Tetra pack cartons
  7. Backpacks, laptop bags and T-shirts recycled from PET bottles
  8. Organic compost and vermicompost prepared from kitchen waste

Ref –

  1. http://saahaszerowaste.com/products
  2. https://yourstory.com/2015/04/saahas-waste/
  3. http://saahaszerowaste.com/


About author – Pramod Bhurji, BIRAC Social Innovation Immersion Programme Fellow at Venture Center, Pune


Problem Mapping – An Approach to Social Startups

About the Speaker: Prof. Satyajit Majumdar is Professor and Chairperson of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship of the School of Management and Labour Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India. He teaches, among others, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, strategic human resources management, growth and technology strategy and corporate social responsibility. He also acts as a consultant and corporate trainer in these fields and mentors entrepreneurs and start-up organizations. He has been actively engaged in expert groups at national and international levels to provide guidance in academic program design and implementation. In 2009, he was conferred Galpin International Research Fellowship by the Quinnipiac University, USA. Prof. Majumdar has many research papers and award winning case studies to his credit, published in national and international journals and edited volumes. His research interest area are ‘growth strategy in entrepreneur managed small and medium business organization’ and strategic CSR [1].

The lecture was delivered on 22nd July 2017 at Venture Center as a part of Social Innovation Lecture Series in association with Villgow.

Problem Mapping

The concept of problem mapping is a challenge. Enterprise creation is not linear and may not be based on a great idea or a great solution. Entrepreneurs as individuals solve problems and there are two ways of approaching it:

1. Solution exists and there is a need for problem analysis

2. Problem exists and there is a need to find solution or ideas to solve it

In the latter case, the approach could open a gateway to new possibilities/opportunities and there is a need for problem mapping. This approach without having a solution bias could be collaborative or multidimensional.

Dimensions of Problem Mapping


Problem mapping is a process of questioning the problem without the bias of any possible solution. It could be multidimensional relating to social, economic, political etc. and the churning of ideas in these domains can influence the problem. An entrepreneur defines the problem according and modifies the system and rules to make it favourable to themselves.  When they sell a problem, the product starts selling automatically. During this process, they need to engage with other stakeholders and can create conflict situations. Entrepreneurs manage these risks and facilitate conflict resolution. The result turns out to be a sub optimal solution which is agreeable by all stakeholders. The solutions should aim to create sustainable value – social, economic etc. Often, the technology for solving a particular problem might not be the best or cutting edge and can again influence the problem-solving approach.

Source: https://destech.wordpress.com/about-2/problem-solving-with-mindmaps/


Entrepreneurship is a method to solve a problem which is based on principles and processes. Firstly, they need to identify why they are solving the problem? It could be based on aspirations or emotions. It’s this self-motivation which drives them through this process. Secondly, they need to establish the case for the enterprise. This includes problem mapping, identifying the gaps, justifying the solutions and the innovation behind it. The last stage is to establish a model. Creating a value proposition is the foremost step as it will influence the stakeholders. The model also includes scalability, financial implications and market assessment.

In this complex process, it’s the entrepreneur which plays a role of a chief architect and navigates through the decision making process. They look for acceptable solutions, creating value for different domains and improvise through their learnings.

About the Author: Shubham Singh is presently working as the BIRAC Social Innovator at Venture Center, Pune.


[1] http://business-schools-for-impact.org/directory/professor/543817d337816b022f0a58d6