Be! Fund: Promoting social entrepreneurship
Since 2011, Deutsche Bank has actively partnered with Be! Fund, India’s first non-profit venture fund. Young people receive seed capital and guidance to realize their ideas for solving local social, economic and environmental problems. In the course of several weeks, Deutschbankers assist the project on-site.
India is booming, but despite the growing economy, unemployment and poverty are on the rise in broad sections of the population. By 2020, the country is expected to have more than 210 million unemployed people, 90 percent of them young people under the age of 30. Innovative ideas are needed to give people access to water and energy as well as waste disposal and health services and to ensure their safety. The aim of Be! Fund is to promote solutions to local problems while at the same time creating opportunities for young people in India.
Be! Fund began with the non-profit organization “Going to School in India.” More than half of all children in India leave school without graduating because education for them is no job guarantee. To counter this perception, the initiative has been producing high-quality textbooks for more than 10 years designed to help children develop entrepreneurial skills in a playful manner. With so-called Be! Fund books, school children learn how important education is for their working lives later on and what they need to have to launch their own enterprises.
100 social entrepreneurs
are targeted for support by Be! Fund by 2014
Letting business ideas become reality
For “Going to School in India”, supporting skills development in school was only the beginning. To actually help children not only dream up entrepreneurial ideas but also realize them, Be! Fund – its venture fund launched in 2011 – provides financial and organizational assistance to selected young entrepreneurs. The social entrepreneurs are accompanied on their way toward self-empowerment. Start-up capital and a jointly developed business plan are the basis for turning young Indians into social entrepreneurs who create jobs and improve everyday life in their communities with their ideas.
Take for example Maheshwari: Her homeland, the abandoned Kolar mining region, suffers from high unemployment and power outages. With solar-powered lamps, Maheshwari provides a sustainable energy supply and creates jobs, both of which have a positive impact on the entire region. Making the world a little more greener is the vision of Archana, who has become a successful entrepreneur thanks to Be! Fund. Archana and her 85 employees take betel palm leaves in her native Karnataka region and process them into recyclable plates to replace plastic ones.
Local employee engagement
Deutsche Bank supports Be! Fund not only financially but also through employee expertise. Under its Corporate Community Partnership Program, the bank sends employees to emerging nations to advice local non-profit organizations. Joris Hensen, for instance, travelled twice for several weeks to New Delhi to consult the Be! Fund team. He developed a software to evaluate the social and financial implications of individual business ideas, in addition to visiting supported social entrepreneurs in the city. For the organization’s school initiative, Konstanze Hertel also spent four weeks in India developing an online funding campaign to expand the Be! Books success in other schools.
The search for local models is continuously expanded. By 2014, Be! Fund aims to support the ideas of 100 young Indians. In those efforts, the organization will continue to be actively supported by Deutsche Bank.