With a focus on developing innovative social ventures that would use technology to create affordable, quality services for the bottom of the pyramid, a techno-social business inclubator Aashray has been set up in Ahmedabad by a consortium of institutes, venture funds and network of social entrepreneurs. Incube Ventures Private Limited (Incube Ventures) and Saath Livelihood Services (Saath Livelihoods) in association with Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) and Ashoka India have come together to form Aashray that aims at creating an enabling and inclusive ecosystem for social to create replicable models for technical and business incubation, and incubate enterprises that enhance access to innovative and socially relevant products and services for the bottom of the pyramid. The idea is to offer incubation services to social-entrepreneurs, nano, bio and ICT-technologies and innovations that promote inclusive development, and sustainable agriculture, energy, housing and sanitation.
Arun Tiwari, chairman Incube Ventures, said that nearly 80 per cent of India's workforce is in the informal sector, and there is a need to create livelihood for them which is not possible through the formal sector. Also, as this segment is willing to pay for quality services there is also a need to create affordable quality services in sectors like education, health, housing, etc. Aashray already has projects like affordable legal services (which provides a rate card for the legal services offered irrespective of the lawyers), savings and credits society, domestic maid service among others. A project is currently underway to develop rental housing options for migrant workers in the cities who end up staying in slums.
As Rajendra Joshi, managing director of Saath Livelihoods pointed out several migrant labourers stay in slums and chawls in big cities. "It is a misconception that these people are unwilling to pay for quality services.
They actually end up paying a significant sum even to stay in a slum. However, if they are offered a decent rental property with basic amenities, they would willingly pay."
Another project where is to bring down cost of diagnostics by several times by using nanotechnology. As Tiwari highlighted, "The cost of running a diagnostic test here for simple set of checks like cholesterol etc is high here as imported re-agents are used. If one can use laser beams to detect the wavelength of cholesterol in a blood sample the cost could come down to as low as Rs 10 from lets say a standard Rs 500," he explained.