UnHerd with Dr. Akshay Jain: Transforming coconut waste into nanocarbons for battery efficiency

Hosted by ACT, UnHerd brings you the unheard stories of individuals who are challenging conventional principles to disrupt the social impact landscape. From social entrepreneurs to venture philanthropists, dive into real-world conversations on what they’ve experienced and learned about changing the status quo.

Our third episode welcomed Dr. Akshay Jain (Co-founder, Cancrie) who, in conversation with Shazib Siddique (Manager, ACT For Environment), shares his journey and learnings as a chemical engineer who saw an opportunity in using agricultural waste to make innovative nano materials that significantly increase battery efficiency.

Listen to this episode on our Spotify channel or watch the conversation on YouTube.

Shazib – Hello and welcome to the third episode of UnHerd – a podcast hosted by ACT that delves into the extraordinary stories of individuals who are challenging conventional principles to disrupt India’s social impact landscape.

The rapid expansion of the electric vehicle and energy storage markets in India is driving the development of the domestic battery industry. As per estimates, the demand for advanced cell chemistries is expected to reach roughly 220 gigawatt hours by 2030 – however, insufficient capacity of domestic battery cell production and shortages of raw materials have become key factors limiting its growth.

Our guest today is Dr. Akshay Jain, the founder of Cancrie, who has dedicated over 10 years of his life to building more efficient batteries by improving performance and increasing their overall lifespan. He has developed a unique way that transforms agricultural waste into carbon nanomaterials that can be used in batteries and capacitors to increase their efficiency by up to 125%. This patented product uses a proprietary manufacturing process that uses 75% less energy and enables a 13x reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Welcome to Unherd, Akshay!

Akshay – Thank  you so much, Shazib.

The spark that lit the fire: Solving for net zero

Shazib – It’s great having you here today with us. So actually, I want to start from the very beginning because when I look at your journey so far, there seems to have been a love affair between you and chemistry. You first did your bachelor’s in technology and chemical engineering, then went on to do a PhD from National University of Singapore. Subsequently, you have worked with the Center for Innovation in Singapore as a scientist and have also been a Fellow with the United Nations Environment Program. What was the spark that lit your fire for working in the climate action space and more specifically on battery efficiency solutions?

Akshay – So first of all, I would say you know, it is a slowly developed love affair. It developed slowly because when I started my bachelor’s in chemical engineering, I had a few options. I was very much inclined towards chemistry. So that was a very simple option for me – instead of choosing electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. And from thereon, I went for a PhD and because I was still inclined towards the technical parts. I saw a lot of industrialists coming to our campus and I was always inspired by those people – the big industries they’ve made by being in that space. So looking at that, it always inspired me that, you know, we can do something big with the chemical engineering space. I went on to do my PhD from National University of Singapore and when I finished my work, it [chemical engineering] was [still] continuously evolving.

And there was always a need which came for sustainability. We have to create climate tech solutions. We have to get to net zero emissions. So slowly those things were coming up and we realized how important it is. [And] when I was associated with the United Nations, there was a clear need that until or unless you create net zero emissions, there is going to be a big problem in the time to come. So, that really clicked with me that whatever we need to do on this earth today should be in the direction that we need to save this planet.

So when I was doing my PhD, I got this option – can we do something for the recycling / upcycling process? This field was kind of expanding and expanding, and there was a clear need; that we need to create these green jobs and net zero emissions. That was the time when I was working in the Center of Innovation. It struck me [to think about] whether we can do it ourselves, whether we can do something more, whether we can create a bigger impact.

So that was the time we started this journey of taking this product – what we are doing today in the market – how we can recycle the waste, upcycle the waste, get to the market, and that which can be used in the batteries, which is, again, related to sustainability, which is again, related to creating net zero emissions. Whichever way we are doing this, maybe we are not making the batteries or making the EVs, but making this material which improves the battery efficiency is something we are contributing to from our end in creating and bringing sustainability. And that is how from the last 10 – 12 years, this technology has come so far and we’ve commercialized this technology from the very scratch.

Traversing tough roads: Lessons from early failures

Shazib – I also want to double click on your journey of innovating this material because the first exposure or the first discovery happened at your time in National University of Singapore, where you also founded a startup called Mesotope, and that was your first startup. Building a startup is not an easy journey so I’m sure there were a lot of lessons that you learned during that first startup experience. What have been the big risks, the big failures, and the larger than life lessons that continue to guide you today?

Akshay – I was working at the Center of Innovation in Singapore and when I switched on to do my own venture, that was Mesotope –  that was started in Singapore. We started in 2019, and when the journey started, it was like we already had proof of concepts; [we had] published some papers. As an entrepreneur, we thought, okay, it’s very easy to get the money from the VCs. But when we really got into the deep tech space – material science, climate tech, hard tech, we wanted to manufacture it ourselves – the reality was very different. [We realized] that unless you have your product made at pilot scale, unless you do trials at the industrial scale in a relevant environment, there will be a challenge.

So that was the first time we thought, okay, we have to put this plant, we have to make these carbons at pilot scale. We invested some amount of money, we did some trials to make these batteries, but all at a laboratory scale. That was the first time we scaled up, and it was a big failure. Why? Because we scaled it for the first time – the kind of materials of construction (MOCs) which we used, the kind of industrial grade chemicals we used, we didn’t realize that what can go wrong in that? We were very naive at that time, and we just used it – we thought that everything would be fine.

We invested a lot of money there, our personal savings had gone into it. And then when the battery came out and the performance came out, it was just an average battery, and there were a lot of water losses. We invested almost eight months into it, and then we realized that every single penny has gone into it. And the battery didn’t perform because of the money. We were out of options.

So that was the time we applied for Techstars, and we said this is the last option we had. We get this money based on the idea and the theme. We [told ourselves] that we will proceed further,  otherwise there is no money to carry on. Because being in a deep-tech and hard-tech space is so expensive. Each and every characterization of the material, each and every characterization of the test on the battery costs us a lot. When [we] applied for Techstars, we were bootstrapping that time, we were only getting support from Nidhi EIR that was Rs. 30,000 a month. We all know that we cannot run a company with that. Me and my co-founder Mahi Singh, we just continued for a few months like that. But luckily Techstars believed in us.

Techstars gave us another chance, and they said, okay, we will give you another chance based on your idea and the capabilities you have. That was somewhere in April 2021 – we got the offer from them and in July 2021, we went to the U.S. and were there for six months. And then, we just continued. And then the journey never stopped. So the learning we had from Mesotope was one very clear thing – that you have to be extremely, extremely careful on the machine types you’re choosing, how you are approaching the market and how much money you have. And you have to be really, really planned a little ahead in terms of the fundraise, calculate the runway you have and take calculated risks. But we have learned a lot of lessons, which definitely made us what we are today at Cancrie, because we have learned those lessons at Mesotope.

First principles lens: Challenges and opportunities in climate-tech

Shazib – That’s so interesting to know that all these struggles and hardships have brought you to this position today where you have developed Cancrie into an advanced materials research company, and you’re developing advanced grade carbons that outperform the incumbent fossil derived carbon black, which is produced out of a very energy-intensive process. Your solution is a delight for any battery company in that regard, because I mean, you currently are already working with some of the largest battery manufacturers, like Luminous, Laurus, Sparco, and Future Energy. But I want to understand from you, what are the unknown struggles of an early stage climate tech entrepreneur that we do not often talk about?

Akshay – Whenever we are talking about these clients, they’re currently getting these carbons from Indian companies and also from abroad – definitely the companies or the manufacturers who are sitting in India, they prefer to have these kinds of carbons, indigenous solutions so that they have a continuous supply. And of course, in terms of the other benefits – in terms of pricing, in terms of the local solutions – these [benefits] are always there [from Indian manufacturers]. Now, what we are bringing to the table is very unique because one, like you already mentioned, is about the energy efficient solutions – that we are getting or making these carbons with much less intensive solutions or lesser intensive processes.

Once we get these carbons out, there are certain parameters, which play a very big role for the battery manufacturers or the batteries rather, for the performance of these batteries. What we are building at Cancrie from this 10 years of experience is that we are optimizing the properties in such a way that we are improving its porosities – like poor areas, poor volumes, conductivities, functionalities, poor volumes, particle sizes, purity levels. There are a lot of parameters. We understood what each and every level is going to play a role in the performance of these batteries.

Now, when we reached out to these players, definitely battery being a very sensitive industry, everybody has these challenges. “Do we have to try this product?” Because number one is, it [trying a new product] is always a time consuming job, right? You have a brand name in the market, and if something goes wrong, you’re all gone. Therefore the manufacturers were not accepting this so easily. To do the trials, we have done the product development for almost one to one and a half years with just one customer. We have shown all these performances after all these certifications, after all the tests at third party international laboratories. And once we had all those things with us, that was the time we reached out to more players, because otherwise it was a challenge for us.

All those challenges which came and everything needs money. There was a time when customers said to us that, see, we are not ready to take that risk, and we are not going to pay you for this because this is new, you are trying out something. Definitely when we reached the investors and the VCs, they were also [hesitant] – whether they are going to take that risk because we did not have any revenue. So this gap was there and we faced it in a big way. And that is where a lot of grants came very handy, that have de-risked us in a step-by-step process. First, we expanded the facility. Second, we made the batteries. Third, we did the industrial-scale trials. Fourth, we did the relevant environment testing, and that is where the grants like [ACT really helped]. Definitely extremely thankful for ACT For Environment who have supported us and believed in us.

But that is where the bridge needs to happen.

Shazib – ACT happens to be one of your supporters, but there are of course, other initiatives and a lot of them, that you have been beneficiary of – like government initiatives with respect to early stage climate tech innovations. So, while there are already a lot of incentives and work being done from the government side on promoting the adoption and the manufacturing capabilities of domestic batteries in India – schemes like the Production Linked Incentive scheme (PLI) specifically, which are focused on the advanced chemistry cells which is a strategic initiative to promote domestic manufacturing and also promote the wider adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy storage so that we can meet the intermittency challenge.

Akshay – Yeah see, this is extremely important. If you look at this space of climate-tech, of batteries and of recycling materials, there is a lot of scope which can be taken care of. What the government has done already is that they have stated that these are the things by which we can control climate change. Can we ourselves, as a company, first bring ourselves to net zero emissions?

And can we support other companies to do that? Because we know that in the manufacturing setup, in the production sector, there will be some emissions which are going to come in, but we don’t want that to happen, and therefore we have to negate that. So we have to think one step ahead. We just don’t want ourselves to be net zero. But what we really want is we really want to make this world a net zero place to live in so that there are no emissions.

And that can be done by bringing sustainability [to] the mainstream, and which can be supported through the help of all these kinds of small developments.

Future Forward: Insights on building a sustainable business

Shazib – And that’s a good segue for me to also come to my next question, which is that your work in itself is very unique. You are building a material science company which is very hard to build, but your approach is also rooted in helping the local community. Tell me why is that so important to you, and what’s your definition of a truly sustainable business?

Akshay – We are recycling the agri-waste, upcycling the agri-waste [and] we always have this vision – can we help the local community there? Farmers who are into this, who are getting certain prices for their waste, or rather they’re just simply burning it or they’re simply throwing it. Can we bring some value to that waste and help that local community earn some benefits from there? We are also thinking in the long term, can we have the distributed units of our plant where these farmers can be employed there, where they can sell their waste there and we can use it in their industry.

Second, very, very important thing, [with] every battery, there are certain rare earth materials which go inside there. What our Cancrie carbon does is, it increases the performance of the batteries and it increases the active utilization of the material which is present inside. What it means is when you say, if you need a hundred grams of the rare earth material, what we are now saying is, instead of a hundred grams, maybe you will get the same performance of the batteries in 95 to 90 grams. Then that means we are saving those rare earth materials by 5-10%. That means that the need for mining is being reduced.

How that is helping the local community is definitely from the health hazard point of view, because now we are not relying more and more on mining. We want to reduce that, and of course, saving the earth from digging it more and more, and of course, saving the people who are into that industry and saving them from health hazards too.

Shazib – Being a founder is not an easy job. You are wearing multiple hats all at once and getting your hands dirty. As an entrepreneur, things can take a downturn at any moment. So how do you prepare yourself for the unprepared nature of this job?

Akshay – See there are definitely unknown challenges in whatever path you take, right? Even when you’re working or, or when I say working, that means if you’re employed somewhere, if you’re doing your own business, or if you’re not doing anything and sitting at home, there will always be challenges which will come and which are always unknown. So, one thing that I’ve learned is that whatever challenge is coming, if it is unknown, don’t think that something [bad] is going to happen. Preserve that energy for the time when it comes, save that energy and fight with the challenge when it comes, because the majority of the things happen only in our mind.

I think my dad told me that, “Akshay, why don’t you write things which you really worry about? Just write it in the diary and see if it is happening with you or not in the future.” I’ll tell you the day I started writing it, until now, none of those things have happened. None, not even one. I’ve written more than a hundred times – it didn’t happen. I [also] meditate a lot. Even in the morning when I come, even in the night when I go [home] before my dinner, I do meditation. I feel that that gives you a lot of power in some way, which I didn’t realize when I started it, it was all for physical reasons, maybe because of my physical health, but it has given me much more than that.

And one more thing which I also do, although I’m not getting a lot of time, I still try to do – is play at least one sport. It gives me some energy, some form of energy, if I play out and go out and do these things. But I think these are some of the things which I feel I can really rely on, which keeps me going.

Shazib – That’s amazing. What are the opportunities that young budding entrepreneurs can tap into? And what advice would you give to young founders who are excited about building in this particular space?

Akshay – One thing that all entrepreneurs should think about is that you should do something that is needed. That’s extremely important. Don’t do your own fanciful things. Don’t do things just because you want to become an entrepreneur or because you want to have your own startup – because these are the things which are going to hit you hard because you want to sell, but [what if] people don’t want to buy? So determine that, take some time and focus on that. Once you get into that, there will be a lot of challenges, which are going to come. But once you are settled, once you have determined that this is something which you really think is going to contribute in some way, then don’t change the pathway.

You have to make your own path. So what we did was we were like, okay, we have these many papers, we have patents. Let’s go to the VC market and we’ll get the money. But the reality was different. And that was the time we learned. Whenever the money comes, it’ll come. We will try, we will keep trying. Grow slow, no problem. Don’t try to rush into things. Grow slow. Because the most important thing, if you have determined that you have to build this, then you will build it.

Shazib – Right. That’s very well said. Thank you so much Akshay for being so candidly open about sharing your experiences, and it was a pleasure speaking to you today and hosting you today on this episode.

Akshay – Thank you Shazib.

Shazib – This brings us to the end of our third episode of UnHerd – a podcast presented by team ACT. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our Spotify and YouTube channels where we’ll bring you more unheard stories of people who are passionate about creating impact at scale in differential ways. People who truly stand apart from the herd.

UnHerd with Sandeep Singhal: Leading the charge on bringing private innovations to public healthcare

Hosted by ACT, UnHerd brings you the unheard stories of individuals who are challenging conventional principles to disrupt the social impact landscape. From social entrepreneurs to venture philanthropists, dive into real-world conversations on what they’ve experienced and learned about changing the status quo.

Our second episode welcomed founder, investor and passionate venture philanthropist Sandeep Singhal who, in conversation with Alankrita Khera (Director, ACT), shares his insights on the public healthcare space, decodes the idea of user centricity for health-tech founders who are building for Bharat and delves into the venture approach to philanthropy. 

Listen to this episode on our Spotify channel or watch the conversation on YouTube.  

Alankrita – Hello folks and welcome to the second episode of UnHerd – a podcast hosted by ACT that delves into the extraordinary stories of individuals who are challenging conventional principles to disrupt India’s social impact landscape.

Solving complex social challenges and creating lasting change takes commitment, time and effort. But more importantly, it needs serious philanthropic capital. Traditionally, this has come in the form of CSR support and institutional or individual funding towards programmatic initiatives. But in recent years, India has witnessed a rise in the venture philanthropy model of giving as well. The idea of providing patient yet high-risk philanthropic capital that’s ‘invested’ in innovative opportunities that have high potential to generate transformative social returns at scale that are both tangible and measurable.

Our guest today is a pioneer of the Indian venture capital space and a philanthropist in his own right. Over the last 35 years, he has been an entrepreneur and investor in equal measure – co-founding eVentures in 1999 as one of the earliest Indian VC funds that catalysed market leaders like MakeMyTrip, moving on to building Medusind in 2002 as a revenue cycle management solution for healthcare and then Nexus Venture Partners in 2006 that focuses on powering disruptive companies across AI, SaaS and Fintech in India as well as globally. Today, he continues to be a senior advisor to both Nexus and Avaana Capital, and as a passionate venture philanthropist, anchors ACT as a board member as well as an investment committee member for our healthcare vertical.

Welcome to UnHerd, Sandeep! 

Sandeep – Good morning Alankrita, good morning everyone. 

The spark that lit the fire: The journey towards social impact

Alankrita – Thrilled to have you with us, and I want to start by going back to where it all began. You’re an electrical engineer from Stanford with an MBA from Wharton, who has been in the shoes of both a founder and a VC. That’s an incredible reservoir of wisdom and perspective from both ends of the table. When and how did you begin to channel that perspective towards social impact?

Sandeep – So Alankrita, I lived in the US. I did my undergraduation in the US and worked at organisations that were quite active in philanthropy through employee matching programs. So, you know, whatever causes we supported, the institution would match that cause. And in many cases, companies like McKinsey had programs that they recommended where you could get involved as a volunteer, as well as places where you could give money. So, it exposed us to philanthropy at a very early stage in our professional careers.

Alankrita – Did it start with McKinsey, with these employee matching programs, or was there some kernel of a thought or an inspiration that struck you much earlier that took shape in the later years?

Sandeep – So, I grew up in Kanpur and there are lots of problems to solve in small cities in UP. And so, that idea of philanthropy and the impact that you can have, particularly in the Indian context, has been there from the very start. Charity always starts at home. My father is a cardiologist. So we grew up in an environment where giving was part of the profession itself. And I got to see him do a lot of free treatment, right? His thesis has always been, pay me whatever you can. So I saw that actually from a personal angle at home.

So when we (Sandeep and his wife Anjali Bansal) chose to return to India in 2000, it wasn’t that I was entering into philanthropic activities in India from scratch. Stuff that we had been doing, both me and my wife had been doing, while we were in the US, we just continued to build on that. 

When we came back to India, I was actually supporting educational initiatives because that was some of the stuff we had done while we were in the US. We were passionate about educating the girl child but also, more broadly, serving underserved communities. If you can educate people and make them literate, it has an impact on everything, including health outcomes, including their ability to live meaningful lives. And that was where we started till I came back to health partly because of my father’s experience.

Alankrita – I think this is where my understanding of your story begins. It’s when the pandemic hit and it hit all of us pretty hard. And I know you along with a bunch of other folks decided to start ACT. Tell me a little bit about that. What was going on in your mind? What were you thinking? How did it evolve?
Sandeep – At eVentures and subsequently at Nexus, I was looking at healthcare investing. And so, I had a pretty good understanding of the healthcare entrepreneur landscape in India. And so when COVID hit, one of the things that was driving the formation of ACT was really this large pool of very passionate entrepreneurs and investors who felt that they could bring their collective capabilities to address COVID relief. It was really a groundswell where you said, okay, anybody that has a point of view on how we can bring innovation, how can we bring the passion to solve healthcare issues should get together and make something happen. And given my experience with companies at Nexus, we had a good understanding of what was required. Health access, health delivery access has (always) been a challenge in India. And one of the learnings has been the fact that there is both a commercial aspect to it, but there is also an impact aspect to it. And I think in the Indian context, impact still trumps the commercial aspect, particularly when it comes to digital health. So, ACT was a perfect platform to say, how can we bring our experience as investors, as founders of companies and so on, to help people who are trying to have an impact on healthcare delivery?

Traversing uncharted paths: The venture approach to philanthropy

Alankrita – And I mean, I have to ask this because I know I get asked this a lot. This is the idea of venture philanthropy at the end of the day – essentially what you’re doing is you’re applying VC principles to the idea of social impact. Why this approach, Sandeep? 

Sandeep – So, the VC approach is fundamentally to say–can this founder or can this team really have impact at scale and build something large? So when you think about it, when a person starts a company, that company has always started to solve a problem. The question is, what is the end outcome of solving that problem? At the end of the day, in some way, it’s making the life of us as human beings better, right? Whether it is Sam Altman building OpenAI or whether it is Jo building Wysa, they’re both using AI to solve a problem, just different problems. And so I look at it from that standpoint and say, the fundamental starting point is a problem. The fundamental starting point is an individual that is looking to solve a problem.

What is the outcome and what are we thinking in terms of what are we measuring as success? And so, in the context of a VC, obviously everybody looks at our IRRs and our returns. Everybody says, okay, how much capital did you generate? Or, what was your return on capital and so on? Sometimes you can have impact outside of capital returns. And so, what you’re looking for from a venture philanthropy perspective is bringing that other element, which is impact for impact’s sake. You’re not looking at it from a standpoint of just commercial returns, but you’re looking at it from a standpoint of scale, impact at scale. And that’s important because there are certain solutions which are targeting segments that don’t necessarily have the ability to pay – those segments typically get addressed by government support. 

One of the reasons why governments exist, and everything is not just a private sector, is because there are requirements that we have. Policy is important – you couldn’t put policy into a private company and expect to get greater terms. It has to be something that is done as a public good. And some of those public good requirements cannot necessarily be met by the government at all times. So innovation and the whole idea of innovation-driven public good is something that the government can’t take on. The government is not necessarily the starting point for innovation. Innovation typically comes from an individual. So the thought was, how do we marry this idea of impact at scale in the public good context with the way we think about impact at scale from a commercial standpoint? Now the two places where they sort of interject are really the sustainability of an enterprise. A startup, when it’s in the initial stages, will raise money, but eventually has to get to a level of scale and profitability that can run on its own. Similarly, enterprises that are doing public good. You know, at the starting point they can raise grants, but at some point has to show enough sustainability that either there is an ongoing grant or the government is giving them money to run programs. Or they get to a point where there is enough value in what they are building that even the bottom of the pyramid customers are willing to take that one rupee or two rupees or five rupees, whatever is needed to get access to that. 

So for us, it’s really trying to find that sort of middle ground, which says, here’s an idea, here’s a solution that is addressing public good and is able to do that in a way which will be sustainable in the long run without the need for me to keep giving grants.

Alankrita – When I look at how philanthropy is viewed, irrespective of the approach that is adopted, what I’ve seen is that it’s often articulated as this larger than life idea of nation building. But at its core, it’s usually very closely aligned to something that you deeply feel, like a deeply felt personal passion for solving a very specific social challenge that’s close to your heart. What does this actually look like for you? And why do you choose to focus your philanthropic efforts there at this stage?

Sandeep – So in the Indian context, philanthropy is really programmatic in nature, right? Now, there has been a shift in that. You look at Akshay Patra, a great example of how effectively a program that continues to run. They’ve shown impact. And they were able to scale and build more and more grant support as they went along. On the other hand, you take an example of a company like d.light, which we had back in Nexus days, which were doing consumer solar lighting.d.light at a certain point was able to charge people enough, who saw enough value in the light that they were purchasing, to create an ecosystem where d.light is today. So, programmatic is good, but programmatic always runs into this issue of ongoing grant requirement. 

The first part of what drives my impact is actually promoting venture philanthropy. Because I think that from that basic lens, I actually think that this approach allows for philanthropy at scale, right? If I can get companies to work in the public good space, in the public good sector, they may be running a business that is profitable somewhere else. But if they continue to provide a subsidised mechanism or provide focus on public health, public education, public environmental issues and so on, I actually think that the private sector has a big role to play there.

So bring in more catalytic models rather than just programmatic models into our philanthropic discussions.

Sandeep – I initially started with the mindset that health access, health delivery, access is an issue. And if you’re sitting in a large metro, you never realise the gap between the quality of healthcare delivery that you have in say a Bombay or where I’m sitting or Delhi or anywhere else versus what a person in a village in some outskirts of Orissa is dealing with. You just don’t see it. And I can tell you, for example, we had patients that would show up at home at 9.30 in the evening for my father, right? And they would say, is Dr. Singhal available? And you would say, but you know, he’s either in bed or he’s going to sleep or whatever else. They said, yes but this is the only train we could get to come here. And you realise that this is the pain point – that to get to a cardiologist, the only way they can do that is that they come to Kanpur. And Kanpur is not that large a city. So again, this notion of a hub and spoke model and then bringing it all the way down to the spoke, the quality of treatment, the quality of access to care and so on, is a huge gap. And so, my initial thought process led me to make investments from a commercial standpoint. 

But my learning along that way has been that there is still a gap. Even if you have telemedicine, there is a big gap in the patient’s ability to get comfort that they’re getting high quality treatment. And so that gap has to be addressed with a physical element to it, right? So healthcare is still a very physical sort of need. How do you create that omni-channel delivery system? And so, the learning was that a lot of that has to be done through grant giving rather than just giving money to companies. The kind of person who needs that access doesn’t necessarily have the comfort to pay for those digital tools. 

As part of one of ACT’s field studies, we actually visited these places outside of Odisha, maybe about 80 kilometres outside of Bhubaneswar, and we met with some people at this PHC, the Primary Health Center. You could see the state of treatment that was happening at the PHC. They had the space, they had doctors, but clearly overworked. And across the road, from the PHC was this chemist. And this chemist would organise a visit from a specialist in Bhubaneswar twice a month. So every fortnight, this specialist would come and would treat people from that region. And people would pay whatever his fees were, 500 rupees or 1000 rupees, whatever he was charging. And so, we asked the people at the PHC, what is this? So he says, ‘we would prefer to come to the PHC and we would even be okay paying’. So, it’s not that I want free treatment from the government. I just want treatment, which I can get – the best treatment and I’m willing to pay for it. There is openness to pay, there is ability to pay. The question is, how do you get the system to that scale? 

So, one of the things that we are doing at ACT is supporting innovators in helping the government improve the quality of delivery in the primary healthcare centre or at the community healthcare centre or at the district hospital. So that’s what’s driving my interest.

First principles lens: Building user centricity in tech-led social innovations

Alankrita – You alluded to this just a little while ago and if I were to just dive a little bit deeper into this need gap that you identified within public health care. It’s a high inertia space, right, from both the patient’s and the care provider’s end? You also talked about innovation and technology. And we know that one of the evolving hypotheses has been that tech can be this bridge, it can play a role in solving this ‘access to affordability’ gap for Bharat. What is the most successful example that you have seen that actually gave you conviction that the use of tech or the use of innovation can actually create real impact for underserved populations?

Sandeep – So from a government side, obviously we have been working with the e-Sanjeevani program. We helped roll that out in Odisha. We visited PHCs where they were actually doing calls with doctors that were at district hospitals. And then we visited the district hospital to see the other end of the doctor taking the call and trying to understand the incentives on both sides. Why would a doctor take out time from their busy schedule to do this telemedicine and vice versa? Why would a patient be comfortable doing this telemedicine call from a PHC? So one of the PHCs that we visited, there was a nurse practitioner who was the same person who was running the PHC. We asked her, I said, ‘why are you doing this?’ She says, ‘sir, I grew up in this village and this is something I have to do for my people’. So this was such a service mindset. The government had given her a BSNL SIM card for connecting to the district hospital. She says, ‘sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work. So I got my own data connection from, I think it was Airtel or Jio, and I used that’. So she’s paying out of her own pocket for getting access to telemedicine.

And she says, ‘it’s so helpful because my patient, and she pointed to this old lady that was sitting there, I just can’t see her travelling 80 kilometres to Bhubaneswar to consult a specialist. It’s just impossible for her to do that, both from a cost perspective, the frailty of the person, and so on’. That model showed me this thing can happen at scale.

Assam, you’re seeing similar activities happening. Nagaland, when we were in COVID, we saw this. I can point to many examples during COVID period where we were able to bring in innovative technologies – whether it was testing at home, whether it was oxygen concentrator delivery. We actually did work with a very interesting organisation out of Cochin, this was a training organisation called Pupil First. And they built in the very early days because Ernakulam was the first place where COVID hit. So they worked with the Ernakulam district authorities and they built a system to actually map the entire healthcare delivery network, whether it was a public hospital, private hospital, ambulances. They mapped it out on a single system and they called it CARE.

And so, we started working with them very early in that journey. We funded their development. That whole experience of bringing software, bringing devices, all of that into a government environment sort of said, okay, as long as we don’t get innovation stuck in the government procurement system, we can actually bring innovation to the government. 

It’s not that the government doesn’t want innovation. The government is seeking innovation because the government also realises, both at the central level and the state level, that innovation is going to be a very important part in making healthcare available to the masses at scale. But see the kind of problems they’re dealing with at scale. The health secretary sitting in Delhi is addressing the whole COVID issue across India, right? You and I never have to deal with that kind of scale. So they have a very strong understanding of scale, but they are so busy in their day-to-day jobs and because of the issue with managing vigilance and all that stuff, they cannot just say, okay, here’s an interesting idea, please bring it to the government, right? They have to follow certain processes when it comes to procurement, when it comes to deployment and so on. Tomorrow if something were to go wrong with the innovation, that’s a huge problem for them. The government can’t deal with that kind of risk. So understanding the limitations under which the government has to work, how do we bring innovation into this system? And the way to do that is to both educate the innovator that this is how public health works, as well as taking away the need for going through a procurement system.

And so initially we’ll do that with certain guardrails, right? We’ll put certain guardrails to make sure that the government is not put at risk. Typically we’ll work with innovations at least that are clinically validated, but even on those, you end up finding edge cases when you are actually in the field. And so once we get more comfortable that edge cases can be addressed, at that point working with the government is to bring that into procurement, rolling that out. Interesting example of a company called Dozee – so Dozee has built a solution where you put a bunch of sensors under a patient’s bed. And those sensors then provide vital information to the nursing station that could be located away from that bed. That was extremely valuable during COVID times because you didn’t expose healthcare delivery staff to go and take vitals. So, Dozee showed the value of the technology, but the technology had some issues. There were some things that had to be worked out. During COVID, we got feedback from the people like the government institutions, charitable institutions that were deploying it saying, ‘we like this product, but here are the five things that it needs to do better.’ And there was one thing as simple as, ‘oh, they have this device that connects to the bed, which looks like it’s an expensive device. Somebody just comes and takes it away. As an innovator, I would never think about that. And you would never say, somebody would steal something from a patient’s bedside, but it happens. 

So we did simple things – like just putting a means to lock it to the bed so it can’t be removed. So they got feedback. They improved it. The government got data saying that this works. So now they are actually, and it’s a private company, they’re expanding quite rapidly. And it’s (their technology) being used, it’s being procured by the government. So again, examples like this just tell you that there is a need for innovation in public health. There is a desire to bring innovation into public health.

Alankrita – Yeah. I mean, you were talking about CARE a little while ago, and I just want to share that they’ve actually been, if I’m not mistaken, they’ve been recognized by the UN as the world’s 50th digital public good. And they actually went on to do tele-ICUs and now are moving on to smart-ICUs, connecting doctors pretty much anywhere in the country to rural and remote hospitals.

Sandeep – It’s an amazing story. It started as a COVID relief project and it has now gone much beyond that. They have built a full solution for managing ICUs remotely. So one of the things that we are seeing is the ability for the work that we are doing in India to have global impact. So at ACT, we are actually quite excited that what we are doing has been accepted by the UN as a digital public good.

Alankrita – That’s right. I mean, taking India to the world, I think that’s the big aspiration. Sandeep, I want to actually just play devil’s advocate. But at the end of the day, if you think of tech-led innovations and the adoption of this kind of innovation or the adoption of this kind of technology, I imagine that depends very heavily on just influencing behaviour change. 

And it comes from my own example. Like a couple of weeks ago, my son was not feeling well, he’s about to be three, and it was quite late in the night. And I have the option of being able to video consult with my paediatrician at the hospital. But the first thing that I thought of as a parent was, I need to be able to see the doctor and I want the doctor to be able to examine him, take his vitals and then tell me what’s wrong. Now, if this is happening with me, this is absolutely happening at the rural Bharat level. So for entrepreneurs who are building in this space, Sandeep, given that this is a consideration, what do you think is the right approach for them to adopt?

Sandeep – My experience with investing in this space at Nexus and looking at this also from what we did with COVID relief at ACT is that the Indian patient is still behaving very similar to what you said. In particular, you are a literate person. You understand how video conferencing works. So you understand that apart from the actual taking of vital signs and so on, a lot of the conversation can happen on the phone. For a person who is not familiar with technology, it’s even harder. When we use the word vital signs, we both know what we are talking about. You go and talk to somebody in the village, what is the information that they need to give to a doctor? They don’t know. The doctor knows what they are and it’s not even like their description of their problem is also challenging, right? So in those cases, the doctor has to ask 10 questions to get to that answer. 

So the point you bring up is extremely valid. This need for a physical connection is very critical. And the government recognizes this. The whole ASHA worker model, the ANM model is driven by the fact that you need that physical touch point. You need somebody in the local ecosystem. You need somebody who is trusted to be able to deliver healthcare at the end of the day. Because if I go to a woman today and I say, I need you to be screened for cervical cancer, it is an invasive procedure in some way, right? How would that woman take it if it was somebody just giving that, making that ask? So trust is very important in the context of healthcare delivery. And so, your point about behaviour change fundamentally starts with building trust. That trust gets built from a very hyper-local standpoint going up. 

What we are realising over there is that to really scale that and to really be successful, one has to really think about this as building capability at the ground level in people that the patients trust. So this is what I was talking about in the context of the PHC. The patient goes, his first point of connect is either the local doctor or the local PHC.

Today we are working with a company that has built cervical cancer screening tools and we are working in some of the backward districts in Maharashtra to provide screening capabilities that if they were done with the naked eye would not provide as much accuracy as we can do with this device. We have been working with this organisation called Mahan Trust. So Dr. Ashish Satav runs this. I have to really sort of look up to people like them. These are people who are living in the remotest parts of India. Dr. Satav is running Mahant Trust out of Melghat district – Melghat district is this tribal district in Maharashtra. 

Recently, we had done a pilot there in Melghat around digital microscopy and being able to provide pathological services remotely. They were working with somebody in Nagpur and they discovered a cancer patient that would have been missed otherwise because the care would not have been available at Melghat. So I think those are the kind of changes that need to happen at the ground level that will drive behaviour change. So once this patient that was diagnosed with cancer goes back to their village and they’ll say, hey, we went to this thing and we got this, they’ll spread the word. So a lot of it is about trust and building comfort. And we have to work with people that have already built that trust and then equip them with more and more innovation.

Future Forward: Wisdom and insights for health-tech founders

Alankrita – Yeah, I mean, Sandeep, we do know that innovation can actually re-write the playbook pretty much completely. But we’ve been talking about how tech works, or how well it works, or the potential that it has. But if I were to look at it from the philanthropic level, these are high-risk philanthropic investments. And given that you, as a venture philanthropist, you’re looking at all of this with a very clear sort of approach and a very clear set of lenses – in your experience and from whatever that you’ve seen, what is the biggest insight you’ve garnered on what absolutely does not and will not work?

Sandeep – Going back to this point of programmatic versus catalytic, we work with the assumption that not every sort of investment we make or every intervention we do will be successful. That’s the nature of catalytic capital. Programmatic works very differently. Programmatic works with the assumption that wherever they’re making an investment, that program will be successful. So there is a little bit more of a desire to not have things fail.

Two things happen because of that. Number one, hopefully we will make decisions faster because we are less risk averse in that sense. The learning, one big learning, for us is that regardless of whether this is a VC investment or whether it is an impact investment where the primary driver is impact at scale, we have to work with people that are thinking of scale in the design of their solution. So one of the challenges, and I think Pramod Verma put this very well. He’s the architect of Aadhaar and he made a very interesting point based on his experience at Aadhaar. He said, the reason why Aadhaar has been successful, is we knew the scale we needed to achieve from day one. And one of the things that we see with people who are working in the impact space is that they work at the local level first, with the idea that if we can solve a problem at the local level – because there is a reason for that. You typically will work on a problem that you see around you. It could be that people are dying of hunger or people are not getting water or whatever else, and you see it around you. And you say, okay, I need to solve this problem. So what they do is they solve the problem at the local level, and then they say, okay, let me scale this. So they don’t necessarily design their solution to be a solution that doesn’t need them or is designed for scale from day one. We are looking for people that are designing for scale from day one.

Alankrita – Yeah. I want to actually now, given that you’ve been talking about this, I want to shift gears a little bit and just to bring this to a bit of a conclusion. If I were to look at it from the social entrepreneur end, there are a couple of things, right? Early stage social entrepreneurs who are trying to pioneer these tech-led innovations, they’re often navigating pretty much everything from clinical validation to build an MVP to business development to crack PMF entirely on their own. At the same time, they’re also trying to balance purpose with business sustainability, because like you very rightly pointed out, that is critical. You have to be able to make your enterprise sustainable to be able to create that impact. What are resilient social entrepreneurs made of, from everything that you’ve seen?

Sandeep – I think the starting point for that resilience is really passion. It’s the passion about the problem you’re trying to solve. It’s actually, I would say, no different between any entrepreneur. Whether it’s a social entrepreneur, whether it is a for-profit entrepreneur or whatever. And many of our entrepreneurs are for-profit entrepreneurs that we have repurposed to work in the public space, right? We’re looking for entrepreneurs that want to solve social problems. So resilience is really around the ability to sell and listen. Those  two are easier said than done. You’re constantly selling – you’re selling to the government about the efficacy of what you have built, you’re selling to your funders, investors that, hey, you know, if you give me money, I’ll bring about major change. You’re trying to sell to your employees that come work for me at half the salary that you’re making elsewhere because you’re having fundamental social impact. The other part that I talked about is about listening. 

So let’s say I am today working at ACT. I’m working on problems that I have personally never experienced. I have never had to deal with not having electricity 24/7. I have never had to deal with having to go get water in the morning by six o’clock because otherwise the well is dry or the taps are dry. So that’s the kind of the need for empathy and listening is very critical. Being able to relate to the person whose problem you’re trying to solve is actually very, very critical for the point you made on behaviour change. I have a very personal story. My son was in, I think, seventh or eighth grade, and he was studying at a private school in Bombay, and they had to do a community project. He went and taught at this mobile creche. So for construction workers, there’s an organisation which runs mobile creches for their kids. So he went and he was going to teach them. And he had gone with a lesson plan. He had prepared everything. And I think he was going to talk about the solar eclipse and stuff like that. So he’s teaching them and then, he sees glazed faces in front of him. So he stopped and he said, what are the questions that you have? And he said that when they started asking questions, the kind of things that they were asking in one way were so basic but in other ways showed him that what he had come in with as, hey, this is what I’m going to teach, was completely off. He said, it was a learning that if you are trying to work in the social sector, you have to be in the shoes of the person who you’re trying to help. And I think that is a very important part about this resilience of the social entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is a very lonely journey, right? So in that lonely journey, you need these small wins. And by being in the shoes of your recipient, the beneficiary, and seeing the small wins, it just gives you the resilience to keep going.

Alankrita – And that’s wisdom right there. But if I just go back to philanthropy, and if I look at what it was about a decade ago, it looked very different, right? It was, and we talked about this earlier as well, it was a little bit more programmatic. And today, we are starting to see that shift where philanthropic intentions are veering towards being a little bit more catalytic with models like venture philanthropy. But at a larger level, if we were to just go beyond ourselves and what we believe in, what’s your personal point of view on the philanthropic approach that is needed to really, really build better for Bharat?

Sandeep – I would say that all types of philanthropy I would welcome, right? I think the number of problems we have to solve and the level of impact that we can have, I think whether it is programmatic, whether it is catalytic, whether it’s venture philanthropy, whether it is your traditional grant giving, whether it is the money that came through religious organisations, whether the money comes through your local charity. 

Today, there is a shift in the narrative and that’s being driven by organisations like ACT, the Nudge Foundation, Central Square Foundation, Giving Pi, AIN, Ashoka Fellowship. There are many organisations that are now creating a bridge between money that wants to go towards philanthropy and causes that are scalable, sustainable in nature. Our role is to provide a bridge and provide that comfort to the investor, to the philanthropic capital. That if you go work with Veena at Periwinkle, or if you go work with Dr. Manjunath at Niramai, or if you work with Dr. Naresh at Navya, the impact that they’re having is a good use of your money. And I think that is what is changing. The narrative is changing today to say there are entrepreneurs, there are innovators, there are private institutions and public institutions that are working towards having impact and they’re having impact at scale.

Some interventions, like I mentioned, will continue to be programmatic, and will continue to require grants. There are others that will migrate towards more sustainable growth, either with the government taking it on or with the people who are the beneficiaries paying for it and so on. But there are going to be catalytic solutions as well. There will be discoveries that will happen in new ways of giving. I don’t know yet. But crowdfunding is a new thing that came up. So a Ketto, a Milaap – they were able to build a platform around philanthropy that I would never have expected in India. This notion of giving money to any random person who puts a request on Ketto, it happens. So I think that there are new forms of philanthropy that are emerging. And my goal is, again, to promote as much philanthropy as possible.

So the idea is that you don’t need to be 50 to start giving money. As I was explaining my own experience, you can start giving money much earlier. And we’ve seen a lot of wealth created in India with very young founders, with next generation family members and so on. And our goal is that not everybody has the time or the sort of inclination to go and set up their own foundation or their own philanthropic sort of infrastructure. So what ACT is doing is giving people an opportunity to come and work off of an existing platform, work with people that have similar goals, maybe not the same goal. It doesn’t need to be the same goal, but provide a platform where people can bring their own interests, their own areas of philanthropy and work off of a single platform.

Alankrita – Amazing. This has been absolutely amazing, Sandeep. Thank you so much for joining us for this conversation.

Sandeep – Thank you. It was wonderful talking to you. 

Alankrita – This brings us to the end of our second episode of UnHerd – a podcast presented by team ACT. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our Spotify and YouTube channels where we’ll bring you more unheard stories of people who are passionate about creating impact at scale in differential ways. People who truly stand apart from the herd.

ACT For Health renews its support to Basic Health Services

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant public health challenge in India, home to the highest number of TB cases globally – about 25% of the global TB burden. Each year, over 2.7 million people in India are diagnosed with TB, predominantly affecting marginalised and economically disadvantaged groups, including migrants and those in overcrowded environments.

In response to the TB crisis, especially in tribal areas, ACT For Health collaborated with Basic Health Service (BHS), a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing comprehensive healthcare in remote regions. BHS serves vulnerable tribal communities through its primary care clinics located in tribal regions of Rajasthan. Their decade-long work has underscored the high TB risk groups among migrant workers, who are more susceptible due to poor living conditions, nutrition, and hygiene. A significant challenge in addressing TB is the lack of availability of diagnostic tools like chest radiography, sputum tests, and the cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test (CBNAAT) in underserved regions.

To combat these challenges, ACT collaborated with BHS to help equip Public Health Centers (PHC) and primary care clinics with X-ray machines and cassette readers to bolster their diagnostic capabilities. X-ray imaging plays a pivotal role in the fight against TB. It especially proves to be vital in low-resourced settings where advanced testing is not available, significantly aiding in the early detection and management of TB. The grant led to the successful treatment and management of over 7,000 TB patients within a year and helped reduce the costs and time for diagnosis and treatment. 

Recognizing the need for X-rays as an essential primary care imaging solution, ACT for Health is renewing its support to BHS for the deployment of mobile cassette readers (CR), also known as an X-ray detector, at their primary care clinics. The availability of a mobile CR machine will allow BHS to serve multiple clinics more efficiently, ultimately enhancing their ability to serve a greater number of patients by reducing overall turnaround time. We’re excited to support BHS in decreasing loss-to-follow-up rates and ensuring swift diagnosis and treatment, thus increasing BHS’s capacity to serve more patients and improve health outcomes significantly in these communities!

ACT For Health welcomes Atom 360 to its portfolio

Oral cancer ranks as a major cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, especially in the Asia-Pacific region where it’s among the top three cancers. In India, the disease presents a significant public health concern, causing over 5 deaths every hour primarily due to late diagnoses—at an advanced stage in over 80% of cases, where treatments are less effective. Key risk factors contributing to this include tobacco and alcohol use, betel quid chewing in specific cultures, and HPV infections.

Late detection stems from limited disease awareness, inadequate screening, and social stigma, contributing to high mortality. However, various studies indicate that early detection, especially in high-risk groups, could notably improve survival rates to 90% and potentially save nearly INR 250 Cr in public healthcare expenditure. Moreover, the current visual oral examination (VOE) screening method has various limitations, including the need for clinical expertise, subjectivity in accuracy rates, and high costs. Therefore widespread, cost-effective, and efficient screening methods are essential, particularly in areas with high tobacco and alcohol use.

Taking cognizance of the urgency and need for ensuring greater access and affordability of oral cancer screening, ACT For Health is proud to support Atom360 – a digital health-tech startup committed to combating oral cancer in India. Berry.care, Atom360’s patented innovative solution, utilises AI to analyse oral cavity images from a smartphone app, aiming for early detection in hard-to-reach areas. The tool is easily operable by community health workers, demands minimal training, and delivers high accuracy rates, as compared to visual examination, at an extremely low cost. This approach could transform oral cancer screening by enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and broadening reach.

ACT will be supporting Atom360 to conduct large-scale screening and clinical validation of its solution in partnership with the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology and prominent cancer institutions. This effort seeks to establish the solution’s effectiveness and we’re excited to support it to scale and reach the last mile effectively.

ACT collaborates with C-Camp and the government of Karnataka to improve eye care services in the state

At ACT, a key insight that fuels our healthcare work is that strengthening public health facilities in rural and remote areas with high-quality point of care screening and diagnostic facilities is the most critical need of the hour. Given India’s growing community of social entrepreneurs who are building for Bharat, we want to support them in taking their health-tech innovations to the public health sector to reach patients from underserved communities at the last mile. 

March 2024 witnessed the first of such public-private partnerships come to life, where ACT For Health collaborated with C-Camp and the Govt of Karnataka’s Health and Family Welfare Department to implement a ‘Comprehensive Eye Care Program for Karnataka using Innovative, Indigenous Health Technology’.

The program, that’s expected to impact 8-9 lakh people across 8 districts of Karnataka, aligns with the state’s vision care program under National Health Mission’s National Programme for Control of Blindness & Visual Impairment (NPCBVI) and will enable the implementation of ophthalmic devices that utilise digital solutions and cloud-based technology to eradicate preventable blindness in a wide age group from 5-80 years. Additionally, it will support eye care for all public transport personnel through screening and eye checkups with provision of free spectacles for vision correction.

For the pilot, this program will leverage the technology developed by Forus Health, a comprehensive full stack digital ophthalmology platform. Forus will deploy handheld autorefractometers for the state-implemented Asha Kirana program, which will reduce secondary screening requirements and its related out-of-pocket expenditures for the population by 75% to 90%. The project will also introduce  teleophthalmology units and conduct capacity building activities in 4 districts to provide clinical support through a hub-and-spoke model. 

This collaboration will allow us to test a unique model to trial how innovators can effectively serve the public health system, and generate rigorous field-based evidence to scale up. C-CAMP will also help support evidence generation and support scale up with the public health system through strategic evidence-based engagement with the state health department. 

Through this effort, we hope to support multiple solutions that can be scaled in the public health system based on strong evidence from the ground and impact millions of lives positively!

ACT For Health doubles down on Navya Care

Cancer ranks among the top five causes of death in India and according to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), the number of cancer cases is estimated to increase from 26.7 million in 2021 to 29.8 million in 2025. However, the cancer treatment pathway in India faces significantsupply-side challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, a ratio of one oncologist per million people and high treatment costs (ranging from 64,000 to 1.3 lakh in government and private hospitals). Additionally, the fact is that despite 70% of the population living in rural areas, 95% of cancer centres are in urban cities, requiring patients to travel long distances, leading to financial and logistical challenges.

At the same time, a significant challenge is also non-compliance with standard treatment guidelines, which can result in undertreatment, leading to patients advancing to later stages of the disease with higher treatment costs and lower chances of survival. In some cases, overtreatment can occur, potentially leading to a decline in the quality of life and toxicity from certain treatments. To address these disparities in standard of care, the National Cancer Grid (NCG) was formed with a primary mandate of promoting uniform standards of care across India by adopting evidence-based treatment guidelines. However, a recent analysis showed less adherence to treatment guidelines despite having protocols for 70 common cancers for the Indian context.

To bridge the gap, innovative solutions like Navya Care utilise a technology-plus-service model to provide patients with personalised, evidence-based cancer treatment plans. A member of the NCG, Navya Care has collaborated with Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) for over a decade, offering its online services to cancer patients nationwide.

In 2022, ACT supported Navya in developing an MVP of the Earthshot Engine for breast, oral and lung cancer, which matches a patient’s medical record with clinical guidelines from the NCG. The engine will assist doctors in making informed decisions about a patient’s treatment pathway, aligning with the guidelines of the NCG. Navya successfully developed the MVP and were able to show early impact like 12% increase in compliance to NCG guidelines, 40% reduction in non-mandatory patient visits and 33% increase in doctor’s bandwidth.

With the aim of taking this innovation to the last mile, ACT For Health is continuing to support Navya with a follow-on grant to conduct pilots in district hospitals and tertiary cancer care centres across Andhra Pradesh and Assam. The grant intends to enable Navya team to:

  • Validate the model and conduct extensive user testing for around 5000-10,000 patients to check the robustness of the engine.
  • Gather data related to clinical improvements, savings in physician time, patient movement, and adherence to NCG guidelines. 
  • Based on the pilot results, refine and finalise the business model and enhance the MVP of the Earthshot Engine to cover 70% of prevalent cancers.

We look forward to supporting the team in demonstrating value across stakeholders such as oncologists, general practitioners, and hospitals etc. through a hub-and-spoke model. This approach aligns with the government’s goal of decentralising cancer care, making it more accessible and affordable for Bharat.

Frontier Markets joins the ACT collective with a Skilling x Women grant

Rural India has experienced a significant surge in phone and internet access in recent years. But despite this progress, communities in these areas still face significant challenges in accessing the benefits of e-commerce – with only around 12% of rural internet users being able to address their needs online. On the other hand, rural women continue to encounter barriers to accessing livelihood opportunities that provide the flexibility they need and are unable to exercise the agency to drive household spending. This impacts the rural markets as a whole because women channel their earnings towards community building activities like children’s education etc. that help build overall economic resilience.

Frontier Markets (FM) offers a solution that addresses these challenges by harnessing the economic and social potential of rural women. FM’s innovative solution enables them to leverage their community relationships to aid their livelihoods, by using a tech-first platform, the Meri Saheli App, that connects products and services with rural communities. Through partnerships with local NGOs and government entities, FM recruits women from Self Help Groups (SHGs) and equips them with their e-commerce platform as well as comprehensive training to market, sell and service necessary products and services. These women not only address real needs within their communities but also become catalysts for local economic growth. 

Till date, Frontier Markets has built a network of 20,000 digital rural women entrepreneurs called “Saral Jeevan Sahelis,” who are using their platform to share relevant insights that help companies design and deliver solutions for rural households at the last mile. For instance, over 1 million families have accessed impactful climate friendly solutions at their doorstep through FM. Sahelis have become trusted influencers and champions of change voicing community needs, emerging as leaders in their villages as well as contributors to their families’ income; earning over $30MN of income and garnering the ability to invest in their children’s future.

FM’s recent ‘She-Leads Bharat’ initiative further seeks to formalise partnerships with the Indian government and NGOs across seven states, with the goal of adopting this model nationally. Over the next five years, FM aims to equip 1 million women to impact 100 million households in 25,000 villages, giving rural women the agency to drive economic decisions, voice their demands, and shape national policy.

The impact of FM’s work extends beyond economic empowerment, benefiting rural consumers by providing access to quality solutions at affordable prices. We are excited to support Frontier Markets with a Skilling x Women grant, which aims to accelerate FM’s scale by expanding its network of women entrepreneurs to 50,000. This grant will enable FM to strengthen its leadership team and execute its growth strategy across multiple states!

UnHerd with Suhas Dixit: The man on a mission to reduce India’s fossil fuel demand

Hosted by ACT, UnHerd brings you the unheard stories of individuals who are challenging conventional principles to disrupt the social impact landscape. From social entrepreneurs to venture philanthropists, dive into real-world conversations on what they’ve experienced and learned about changing the status quo. 

Our first episode welcomed Suhas Dixit (Founder, APChemi) who is pioneering a cutting-edge pyrolysis technology that is enabling plastic circularity. In conversation with Alankrita Khera (Director, ACT), Suhas delves into his inspiration for building APChemi and his insights on the cleantech industry, the tough lessons he has garnered along the way as well as his perspective for other entrepreneurs building in this space.

Listen to this episode on our Spotify channel or watch the conversation on YouTube.  

Alankrita – Hello and welcome to the very first episode of UnHerd – a podcast hosted by ACT that delves into the extraordinary stories of individuals who are challenging conventional principles to disrupt India’s social impact landscape.

When we think of environmental concerns, plastic waste management is always top of mind. India generates an estimated 3.4 million tons of plastic waste annually, out of which only 30% gets recycled. The remainder is essentially non-recyclable and either ends up in landfills for incineration or is dumped in aquatic bodies – contributing to carbon emissions and severely impacting local ecologies.

Our guest today is the founder of APChemi – a chemist turned social entrepreneur who decided to address this gap by pioneering an advanced pyrolysis technology that truly enables plastic circularity. APChemi is breaking barriers associated with traditional recycling by converting non-recyclable plastic waste into a purified oil which can be used to produce sustainable chemicals and even aviation fuel. Having partnered with corporates and municipal corporations alike, the solution has the potential to also offset the demand for fossil fuels in the long term!

Welcome to UnHerd, Suhas!

Suhas – Thank you so much, Alankrita. 

The spark that lit the fire: APChemi’s origin story

Alankrita – Really glad to have you. You’re a chemistry major who could have worked in any global corporation of your choice, but your obsession with plastic waste led you to become an entrepreneur and start APChemi. What’s the story there?

Suhas – A lot of early motivations shape what you do tomorrow. Back when I was a kid, children around me used to burn plastics and I was raised in an interior village in Maharashtra, so these kinds of things used to happen. Now I know that burning plastic waste is incineration and that it creates a lot of harm, but back then it was my first introduction to plastic – subjecting it to heat. After that, during my graduation (at ICT), it so happened that we had some kind of a glassware assembly arranged. And I thought, “Okay, now that the professor has not turned up, what if I put plastic into the reactor and see what comes out from the condenser?” Those were the early experiments. It’s not like you have an idea – the idea has you.

Alankrita – Yeah. And I remember this really interesting story from one of our earlier conversations where you had essentially created a small plant and you had demonstrated it by putting it into the back of your car. Would love to hear a little bit more about that. What was that initial hustle?

Suhas –  Yeah, after my MBA, I worked for corporates in marketing and strategy, which the sales team would implement. I held such corporate jobs until 2007, but it didn’t give me satisfaction. I wanted to do something involving converting plastic into oil. Those few experiments I conducted during graduation motivated me to pursue that. So I quit my stable job, used all of my savings to set up a small pyrolysis plant to convert maybe 1-2 kgs of plastic into oil. Then I started showcasing those plants. You get a free stall at city council exhibitions because hardly anybody wants to go there and exhibit. So early-stage entrepreneurs who don’t know what they are doing can easily get a stall there. I began displaying it there, thinking that if I display my solution at an exhibition of a municipal corporation, I’ll get a contract from them – not knowing at all what government contracting entails. But once you put your idea out in the world, people who like your idea start talking to you, and that leads to something. Around 2018, a lot of legislation started around the circularity of plastics. That led us to understand that just converting plastic into oil is not enough. The oil needs to have good enough quality. That’s where the industry started moving once the legislation supported the advanced chemical recycling of plastic waste.

Traversing tough roads: The anatomy of a resilient entrepreneur 

Alankrita: Yeah, I mean, the market has definitely changed quite a lot. But when I think of founders, and especially founders in the clean tech space, actually founders anywhere, really, it’s all about failing fast, learning fast, pivoting fast. What are the lessons that have enabled you to build faster, better, stronger with APChemi today?

Suhas: The way I look at entrepreneurship is that it’s your decision to solve problems that have not been addressed.The moment you venture into it, there are bound to be failures. And then once the mistakes come, what can make a lot of difference is how quickly you get over it, just solve it and create a larger value. So that the failure that you encounter doesn’t mean much in the overall turn of events.

This happened to me somewhere around 2011 – 2014, when I had a stable reactor design and a process plan design where we knew that what we had promised would get delivered. During that time, I came across a gentleman who had served at a very high level as a senior process engineer and was the Director of a global organisation. He proposed the design of a reactor which would work better than my existing reactor design. And I got influenced by somebody else’s idea thinking that just because that person is experienced, his design could work better than my proven ideas. I adopted that design in a project that had nothing to do with him, of course with his consent. The whole thing did not work out. So that’s where I learned a lesson that don’t get infatuated if somebody comes across as very intimidating. Just be grounded – you know your technology, you know what you’re doing, so just stick to that and don’t take sudden decisions as such. (Initially), our focus was more on selling systems that work. But with APChemi, Agile Process Chemicals, our focus is more on building collaborations that sustain.

Alankrita – It’s interesting how you’ve woven that into your company name as well; it was such a big lesson at that point of time. There’s always this one big driver that propels this journey forward, right? So for you, Suhas, in the larger context of India’s climate goals, what is that catalytic role that you, as a social entrepreneur, see yourself playing?

Suhas – We, as an organisation, believe that we can divert 500 kilotons per annum of plastic waste away from landfilling and incineration by 2030. We are setting up an oil purification plant of our own, the first of its kind plant in India, to upgrade the pyrolysis oil to the requirements of a petrochemical buyer. And then, also, we want to licence this technology so that India doesn’t have to depend on crude oil.

Alankrita – It’s almost like playing a role in the larger decarbonization movement.

First principles lens: Addressing self-doubt and business risks

Alankrita – I do actually want to, at this juncture of the conversation, share a snapshot of APChemi’s trajectory so far. I mean, the solution has recycled 179 million kgs of non-recyclable plastic waste into pyrolysis oil with the goal of reaching 1 billion in the next two years. It has created over 3000 jobs with 47 projects, has five granted patents with 12 more in the pipeline, and successful partnerships with folks like Shell KIIT, TBI, and the Indo Danish Hydrogen Call, and more. 

Your conviction to build and grow in this space seems to have moved mountains, but there must have been seeds of doubt along the way, right? What have been some of the “Am I doing the right thing” sort of moments that you’ve encountered, which really made you feel like, “I need to second-think this”?

Suhas – I mean, nobody can really escape self-doubt, right? At some point in time, you start questioning whether you deserve this, or whether you’re smart enough to handle the situation, or whether you’re capable enough or not. I mentioned that I had tried to adopt somebody else’s design and the project kind of failed. When this happened, I went to an advisor of mine – a very senior chemical engineer who has a lot of experience and has received one of the highest awards from the government of India. I told him -”This is a liability that has been created because the reactor design that I tried but didn’t work. And then, to solve this problem, I have this much money in my hand – where do I go from here? I have all kinds of self-doubt, and I’ve just come here to find a solution from you.” So what he did was very surprising to me. He made me take an IQ test and at the end of it, I asked him why he made me do that. His principle or theory is that if someone’s IQ is more than 110, then that person should get into the business of solving problems. And if it is less than 110, then one should get into the business of managing the problem rather than solving; one can hire people to solve the problem. Since my IQ somehow turned out to be more than 110, he gave me a kind of confidence that I could solve the problem. I mean, he just handled me in the lowest of my moments. Probably, he has seen more rainy seasons than me. So, he understood that just handling this moment of low is more important than just giving this guy a solution. 

But I mean, going back to your question, how do you overcome your self-doubt? Probably only by perseverance.

Alankrita – What have been some of the bigger risks, if I may call it that? 

Suhas – So when crude oil prices crashed in 2014, the market for converting plastic to oil kind of got wiped off overnight. Crude oil prices were $120 per barrel and that got slashed down to $30 per barrel. And pyrolysis oil that was getting sold at around Rs. 60-80 per litre; the prices of it got crushed to Rs. 20-30, because of which the whole market changed. It was a huge shuffle. All your relationships changed, all your projects changed, your projects got cancelled and suddenly your team of 80 engineers didn’t have any work to do. So, I was in a situation that I had never faced before. For almost one and a half years, I carried that heavy load of those engineers as I exhausted all my financial resources, went to zero, lost everything that I had, just to pay salaries of a heavy team, hoping that the market will turn around. The lesson that I learned is that you have got to do something in this situation. Just because you have money, you cannot keep it burning. You cannot carry a heavy load by not working on the problem. So, the highest risk that I took probably was to learn the lesson that was required to be learned, I guess.

Future Forward: Emerging opportunities for cleantech

Alankrita – I mean, that’s the thing. From an external lens, a clean-tech founder’s life just sounds exciting. You’re building new technologies, you’re charting new growth paths for the company, you’re being recognised as an innovator, as a disruptor. But we know that’s not the whole picture, especially for early-stage companies. There are struggles that are not always actually visible to everybody on the outside. What have been those for you in the current context?

Suhas – So if you look at the current plastic scenario, recycling plastic begins with segregation of plastic waste. However, let’s face the reality: less than 15% of plastic waste undergoes segregation. Moreover, only water bottles and PET bottles are frequently segregated due to their ease of handling and higher market value. On the contrary, flexible plastics like chips packets often remain uncollected, leading them straight to landfills, incineration in cement plants, or burning in waste-to-energy plants.

If you look at the value chain, consumers generally disregard the segregation of plastic waste. Once collected, plastic waste is handed over to the municipal corporation, which, in turn, prioritises disposing of plastic waste rather than recycling it. Municipalities often delegate the entire waste management contract to municipal solid waste contractors, who, in turn, prioritise collaboration with municipal corporations over achieving recycling targets.

Material recovery facilities, which are crucial in the recycling process, face operational challenges. Their predominant mindset favours burning flexible waste rather than engaging with chemical recycling or pyrolysis companies, which demand high-quality plastic waste. Additionally, petrochemical companies exhibit reluctance towards pyrolysis plants due to their size differences and operational complexities. Like a petrochemical company would be a $1Bn asset – they are not very open to hundreds of pyrolysis plants. 

And then there is a disconnect between polymer producers and FMCG companies, where the relationship tends to be more commercial. How cheap can you give me rather than asking what is the recycled content in your polymer, or can you give me recycled polymers? That discussion is yet to start because legislation doesn’t demand it. Consequently, the plastic circularity value chain, involving consumers, municipal corporations, recyclers, polymer producers, and FMCG players, lacks a unified platform or legislative framework to facilitate collaborative efforts and innovation.

Alankrita – EPR in various countries, including India, essentially mandates producers and brands for accountability for post-consumer waste. Is that having any positive connotations for what you’re trying to do with APChemi, is that enough to be able to drive this in the right direction?

Suhas – You see, some amount of responsibility is always better than zero responsibility. So, what EPR does is assigns responsibility to brand owners, FMCGs, and packaging companies. But there are two, three dimensions here. First of all, concerning EPR, who should be made liable? Should it be only FMCGs, brand owners, and packaging companies, or should polymer producers also be involved? Right now, the EPR framework doesn’t include polymer producers. For polymer producers, there is no compulsion to consider the extended producer responsibility of producing the polymers. So, there is a disconnect there. The management of plastic waste has a significant carbon footprint. What EPR does is enforce the management of plastic waste, which is good. But EPR should go beyond managing plastic waste and also consider the carbon footprint of managing the plastic waste.

Alankrita – So, almost like a plastic tax, I don’t know if I may call that that.

Suhas – Plastic tax would probably be a tipping point for seriousness around plastic waste management. So the difference between legislation and legislation on tax is that if you don’t follow a government guideline on EPR, you’re doing something wrong but there are no serious consequences. But if you have something like a plastic tax and if you don’t follow the legislation around plastic tax, then evading taxes is a very serious situation. So it kind of puts everybody on the spot. But then again, that plastic tax – who all does it affect? Plastic tax would do much better than EPR but then covering the entire value chain is more important than just having these legislations.

Founders’ perspective: Finding purpose and product market fit

Alankrita – It’s really hard to not look at one without looking at another. Interestingly enough, I recently read somewhere that even though Asia is like the centre of the plastic waste crisis in a lot of ways, yet 95% of investments to solve these plastic problems are actually happening in the US and Europe and we know clean energy is a huge opportunity. But I think also the biggest challenge for climate tech startups is often to secure enough funding to overcome that period between creating a minimum viable product to reach product-market fit. In that context, what are some of the big things you have learned along the way?

Suhas – The amount of funds available for these kinds of initiatives and the overall availability of funds to small and medium enterprises, are very low in India.The only access to capital that entrepreneurs in India have is this funding scheme called CGTMSE. Other than that, there’s not much access to capital that small and medium entrepreneurs have compared to those in developed countries. So if you set up a business in Singapore, it’s very easy to get substantial tranches in three stages – one to develop the technology, second to scale it up, and third to commercialise. The government is betting half a million dollars on entrepreneurs who are serious about what they want to do in all of these developed countries. Compared to that, capital available in India is a challenge for small and medium enterprises. When I attended those municipal corporate exhibitions and displayed my technology there as a very young entrepreneur way back in 2007-2008, I very quickly realised that dreaming about a million-dollar contract needs to stop. What is more important than raising funds is having cash flow. So, as long as you have cash flow, wherever you are in the world, you will sail through.

Alankrita – Yeah. I was also hearing you talk about one of your mentors and it almost feels like the presence of the right mentors, the right advisors, is also fairly critical. 

Suhas – Of course. Not only do they bring in a very independent perspective, but they also encourage and that plays a very important role for entrepreneurs. I tried to build something without advisors and it felt like a lot of struggle. It’s not necessary that you have to struggle so much. Of course you have to put in effort. Effort and struggle are different things. So, effort doesn’t get reduced but the struggle gets reduced for sure in case you have great advisors. 

Alankrita – We know that cracking PMF with a B2B solution in the sustainability space is actually quite tricky. In your experience, the journey that you have traversed with APChemi so far, what is the right approach, if you can even call it that, for clean tech founders to adopt? 

Suhas In the market, you’re going to come across ten different customers or a 100 different customers. You cannot say that each of these customers has the exact same requirement and I will serve them with this technology or solution only and the entire strategy for product-market fit will work like this. So, it really helps to talk to them. And also, not only the entrepreneur talking to them, but also training your team on how to interview the customers, understand where they come from, what their priorities are, what their worries are, what they are looking for to go to the next step. There’s no substitute for it. You need to understand that every customer is going to be different, and the customer dictates the product-market fit rather than you dictating the product-market fit.

Alankrita So, customer centricity is extremely key. I want to come back to your big purpose. You articulated that a little while ago and you talked about decarbonisation. And look, that’s not a revenue goal. That’s not a valuation goal. That’s an environmental goal. For social entrepreneurs, I feel like it’s so imperative to focus on both purpose and profit. How do you balance business sustainability with climate impact? 

Suhas – So profit can also be one of the purposes and a lot of entrepreneurs work on that idea that as long as I’m making profit, that is a good purpose to have and all will be good but very soon and hopefully sooner than than later, there is some emptiness that comes into the business. It becomes very artificial and you don’t really solve real problems and all.

I learned this from my grandfather. I asked my grandfather for advice on the business one day. And he asked me, “What do you call finance in Marathi?” I didn’t know. He said, “Go and ask.” My mother told me that it’s called Artha Shashtra. Yeah, I think that makes sense. So I went back to him and then he made me understand the meaning of that word – that there is Artha and then there is Shastra. So Artha is meaning and then Shastra is Science, So the science of meaning is Artha Shastra – the way we think about business or profitability in our part of the world. As long as meaning is there, money will be a by-product of it, profitability will be a by-product of it.

Alankrita –  In fact, I remember in one of our conversations I have heard you say that purpose takes you far, much further than things like market valuations etc. And that to me was actually a very powerful statement. What are some of those fundamental shifts that founders, who are building in the space, need to keep a very close watch on? So that they can help India accelerate its progress towards the climate action objectives? 

Suhas – So that’s a very interesting question. If entrepreneurs indulge in doing something that is not aligned internally and externally, there will be a lot of disappointment regardless of whether the market has challenges or not. Once you have that base, then what probably you want to do as early as possible is get advisors. Having somebody else challenge your ideas in a friendly manner is extremely valuable, especially earlier on, so as to prevent blunders. 

Then the market is going to be a mix of opportunities and challenges. If you focus more on challenges, you will experience more of that. But find out where the opportunities are and focus on that and also try to match the size of opportunity with the size of expenditure that you have to incur to keep the business alive. Go for smaller opportunities as well. So, if you’re an entrepreneur and probably if nobody knows about you, you want to ensure that you have an invoice ready for the smallest size to a larger size, so that when you come across a market, or a problem in a market where somebody can pay for your goods or services or expertise, you have that to offer.

Alankrita – This has been absolutely incredible.Thank you so much for joining us for this conversation today!

Suhas – Thanks Alankrita, thank you so much.

Alankrita – This brings us to the end of our first episode of UnHerd – a podcast presented by team ACT. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our Spotify and YouTube channels where we’ll bring you more unheard stories of people who are passionate about creating impact at scale in differential ways. People who truly stand apart from the herd.

Empowering the dreams of students in rural Maharashtra: How VOPA helped Annapurna aspire to become a District Collector

In Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, the story of 15-year old Annapurna Jadhav unfolds—a tale of determination amid life’s challenges. Annapurna had lost her father due to severe health issues, leaving her mother to single-handedly support their family by working at a mat-making company.

Amidst the turmoil of pandemic-induced lockdowns, education for millions of students nationwide almost came to a standstill, particularly affecting children like Annapurna in India’s remote regions. Amidst this uncertainty, a beacon of hope emerged when VOPA, an ed-tech startup, visited her school and introduced their free solution called V-School – which aimed to democratise digital learning among underserved students in Maharashtra’s rural areas.

VOPA’s innovative super app, that hosts educational content in vernacular languages like Marathi, Urdu, and semi-English, was looking to transform traditional learning paradigms. For Annapurna, V-School transcended beyond an app; it became a catalyst for change. Its free, accessible resources, from videos to MCQs, offered a lifeline to tackle the structural challenges that in-person learning presented. Subjects like Maths and Science, once daunting, became comprehensible with V-School’s engaging modules and interactive features.

Instead of having to rely on expensive tuition which her family couldn’t afford, V-School gave her the flexibility to study at her own pace, propelling her to become the top user of the V-School App in the Taluka. Beyond assessing her learning levels, V-School equipped Annapurna with resources to bridge learning gaps, circumventing the limitations of traditional student assessments conducted by school teachers.

“The lessons on the V-School app helped me a lot in my board examinations. The MCQs were also helpful in scoring high marks,” Annapurna reflects, “I was able to secure 93.6% only because of V-School and my school teacher. I dream of becoming a District Collector someday. I know I can!” 

With the integration of cutting-edge technology like the ChatGPT API, VOPA is addressing existing gaps in the ed-tech industry, particularly in providing contextualised learning platforms that offer affordable education to India’s underserved populations. As online learning becomes increasingly integral to India’s education system, VOPA’s solution endeavours to bridge these disparities and make learning more accessible and impactful for all. 

Annapurna’s story underscores the transformative power of technology in empowering students to shape their dreams into reality!



Minimines joins the ACT For Environment portfolio

As the Indian EV market booms, there is significant demand for the domestic production of Lithium-ion batteries – as is evidenced by the government of India’s Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme which has a budgetary outlay of INR 18000 Crores for advanced battery chemistries. With industry players like Reliance and Ola Electric poised to set up their own Lithium-ion battery plants by 2025, there is a unique opportunity for recycled rare metals as production input which can reduce India’s dependence on the import of mined metals and prevent the depletion of scarce resources caused by mining. At the same time, there is also a need for sustainable recycling of end-of-life Li-ion batteries as India will need to recycle an estimated 150 kilo tons of Lithium-ion battery waste by 2030, whereas our current recycling capacity is less than 2000 tons a year.

Founded in 2021, Minimines is a clean-tech company whose innovative solution has the potential to address both ends of the value chain to enable true circularity. They have developed a unique low-cost and low-emissions hybrid hydrometallurgy process to recycle used Lithium-ion batteries and extract rare metals like Lithium, Manganese, Cobalt and Nickel, which can be used in the domestic production of fresh Lithium-ion batteries in India.

Currently, the most common battery recycling methods are pyrometallurgy and traditional solvent-based hydrometallurgy that face significant environmental challenges like high energy requirements, usage of large quantities of water, high carbon emissions and the need for expensive organic solvents that generate toxic waste. In stark contrast, Minimines’s proprietary technology is 75% more energy efficient and 95% more water efficient than prevalent recycling methods along with having the benefit of zero direct emissions. Furthermore, they are able to recover all the rare metals with more than 96% efficiency and at 99% purity – the efficacy of their solution has been validated at lab scale.

ACT for Environment’s support will enable Minimines to accelerate scale of production by transitioning from their current batch scale unit to a continuous process unit at 1.5 ton / month capacity. This will ensure mission-critical process efficiencies that will accelerate their go-to-market plan and drive adoption by facilitating commercial pilots within the battery manufacturing space.

We’re excited to be a partner to Minimines and support them in their goal of enabling sustainable battery recycling while contributing towards India’s journey of becoming self – reliant in the Lithium-ion battery manufacturing space!

ACT Capital Foundation For Social Impact is a not-for-profit company incorporated and registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. All donations made to ACT Capital Foundation are eligible for income tax deduction under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.

ACT Capital Foundation For Social Impact © 2021 | All Rights Reserved

Site handcrafted by:  TWN