Investment opportunity #5- Enabling community-driven sustainable action

Strategic Philanthropy | Feb, 2020

Investment opportunity #5: Enabling community-driven sustainable action

Case study: Sandbox ecosystem supported by Deshpande Foundation

About the model: Sandbox is a “living laboratory” for local social entrepreneurs to have their ideas tested, strengthened and sustained over a period of time. As a systems solution, Sandbox is built on the principle that innovations for change need to be bottom up, rooted in a deep understanding of the problem itself and co-created with the people who need it most. To this end, Sandbox builds local leadership and strengthens capacity within the community to absorb the idea and own it in the long run. The Sandbox ecosystem has four impact units—Agriculture, Skilling, Micro Entrepreneurship and Startups. LEAD and Navodyami programmes are a part of this ecosystem. While LEAD is a youth-leadership programme that works with college students to foster empathetic and entrepreneurial thinking, Navodyami helps to make micro-entrepreneurship a viable livelihood, enabling individuals to build sustainable small enterprises.

Impact and scaling potential: Inspired by its success in Hubballi, the Sandbox model has been adopted by entrepreneurs and philanthropists in different parts of India like the Katakiya Sandbox in Telangana, with the operational support of the Deshpande Foundation. This Sandbox model, setup in the year 2007, has benefitted 12,000 farmers, skilled 10,000+ youth and placed them in organised sector jobs, successfully built capacities of over 40,000 youth leaders, trained over 10,000 micro-entrepreneurs, and supported 180+ start-ups which have generated INR 2000+ million cumulative revenue.

Philanthropic spotlight: Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande and his wife Jaishree’s belief in the power of social entrepreneurship led to the founding of the Deshpande Foundation in 1996. He has more than three decades of experience as a technology entrepreneur, investor and founder of several companies. As a successful entrepreneur and a systems thinker, Desh believes that creating a successful social enterprise was not just about coming up with a great idea but about prioritising and nurturing local ownership. Giving for Desh resonates with his approach as an entrepreneur, placing big bets over the long term and aspiring for scale to achieve maximum social impact.

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