An accelerator for early-stage enterprises that promote equitable economic growth in India through the application of dignified work, climate mitigation, and circular economy principles
India is currently dealing with a dual crisis: extreme vulnerability to climate risks and jobless growth. Among the sectors with the most pollutants, the textile and apparel, construction, transportation, and waste management industries also have pervasive levels of informal employment.
The textile value chain is natural resource intensive and consumes and generates substantial textile waste. Similarly, the transportation and construction sectors are responsible for around 11% and 20% of India's emissions. Further, India is suffering from a waste management crisis with more than 80% of waste ending up in landfill.
At the same time, nearly 90% of the workforce does not have stable and formal employment. Instead, they earn low and irregular wages without employer benefits. More than 60% of the garment workers and artisans are employed informally or at home based units. Most of the labor employed on construction sites are employed informally, often consisting of rural migrant workers. And a significant portion of the estimated 1.5-4 million waste picker community and estimated 25 million in transportation and logistics are also employed informally. Across these sectors, women and those from oppressed caste communities are paid disproportionately lower wages, working longer hours and facing extreme marginalization.
High levels of unemployment in urban and rural areas are currently pushing the informal workforce into poverty. Acumen envisions building a new ecosystem committed to workers by accelerating early stage enterprises that can both create economic stability for India's informal economy while also reducing waste and emissions.
To support social entrepreneurs committed to boosting dignified employment and creating positive environmental impact, Acumen’s new Green Growth Accelerator Program will prepare a cohort with the grit, character, and competence to build scalable, inclusive, and sustainable solutions.
Over 16 weeks, you and your team will learn the essentials of building a business model that can achieve both social and environmental impact and profitability, while connecting with a network of peers and experts focused on green growth.
The curriculum leverages the experience of Acumen's investment work at the intersection of poverty and climate change and our pioneering leadership practices to build a better world, helping you develop both the competence and character to scale your business. You will learn about Acumen’s Moral Leadership practices to build a better world: from Listening to Voices Unheard to Partnering with Humility and Audacity. These are vital skills for any leader looking to create new realities that better serve the poor and the earth.
You’ll access industry and impact-specific case studies, video tutorials, and practical readings on all module topics, and receive invaluable support from our Accelerator program team and expert facilitators. You’ll complete assignments that are designed to help you think critically about your business, and then join weekly interactive Learning Labs to give and receive feedback from your peers.
You will also get to work with NSRCEL, a leading startup incubation center at IIM Bangalore and our knowledge partner, who will conduct workshops on topics such as marketing and cash management. Throughout the accelerator, you will receive individualized support from expert advisors from Acumen India and NSRCEL’s networks to ensure you have a great support network to help you achieve scale while also increasing your impact.
The program will culminate with a closing session where you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your venture for up to $50,000 USD in seed funding from Acumen and other investors.
I’ve learned about moral imagination and how to reimagine the world as it could be — better for the people I work with. When I put myself in their shoes, I’m able to understand their perspective and design better solutions for them and for the planet.
The program has already helped us narrow down on a business model through customer discovery experiments. We have also stopped a couple of non-core projects that were technology-focused but were not solving any real problem for the customers.
Today, we have a better understanding of our business and how to scale. We also have more confidence to do experiments and have been able to test our key assumptions.
Applications Open Until
May 27, 2022
Program Launch and Orientation
July 19, 2022
This is an intensive online program for entrepreneurs and c-suite executives leading for-profit/hybrid social enterprises that:
Favorable consideration will be given to teams who are working on solutions impacting women informal workers
Determine the best next steps to reach financial sustainability
Change more lives, faster, by focusing on activities that work
Tap into the expertise of peers — and Acumen — to solve problems in real time
Build meaningful relationships with a community of like-minded social innovators
How to Qualify
Applications will be reviewed once the application deadline passes (15 May). If you are selected for an interview, a member of the Acumen team will reach out to schedule a 40-minute video call with you on the Zoom platform. We expect two lead participants to both join the call.
You need to be an entrepreneur running a business with primary operations in India and catering to the Indian market. You do not need to be an Indian citizen in order to apply. However, please note that you are expected to participate in IST time zone meetings and attend the demo-day in India (if it is held in-person)
You can apply if you have a hybrid model (i.e., a for-profit entity and a related non-profit entity) but we will not accept purely non-profit business models.
When and Where
Most of the assignments can be completed online at your own pace before the submission date every week. Your team’s Lead Participants will be expected to participate live during the weekly 2-hour Learning Lab sessions. The calls with the Acumen team and external mentors can be scheduled at times that are mutually convenient for you and your advisor.
The program launch will be during the week of July 18 and we will confirm which day of the week learning labs will be during interviews. The program will end with a demo day in the first week of November.
This is a virtual, online program. The weekly Learning Labs will be hosted virtually on the Zoom platform. You should have a stable internet connection and the ability to participate in video calls. Specific times of the zoom sessions will be communicated if you are selected for an interview.
The program team will endeavor to execute an in-person demo-day at the end of the program. If this is not possible to deliver in person, we will host a virtual demo day as the finale of the accelerator program.
Following the program, you’ll join an alumni community of over 1000 social innovators around the world. We call the Acumen alumni community ‘The Foundry’ - where our aim is to accompany builders from around the world by connecting them with the resources and relationships to amplify their work in architecting a just, inclusive, and sustainable world.
Acumen Academy is the world’s school for social change. Our mission is to unleash a new generation of social innovators and leaders with the character and competence to build a more just, inclusive, and sustainable world. Blending the best of online and offline learning, we offer anyone, anywhere access to the practical tools, practices, resources, and supportive community they need to achieve positive social change. The Acumen Academy community represents a new generation of social innovators and leaders committed to doing what’s right in a world that loves easy.
Learn more at www.acumenacademy.org.