DBS NUS workshop

Workshop for DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge

Samhita Social Ventures facilitated a 3-­‐hour workshop in Mumbai on January 20, 2014 for those entrepreneurs who wished to participate in the DBS-­‐NUS Social Venture Challenge. The workshop was structured in a way that would help the participants learn how to organize resources efficiently and effectively to provide a good or service that meets a need and develops a financially disciplined approach to solving social problems on a sustainable and scalable basis. It sought to assist a participant in creating a business model using 9 inter-­‐connected building blocks: key partners, key activities, key resources, value proposition, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, cost structure and revenue streams.

The workshop was a resounding success with entrepreneurs from over 15 teams and 4 mentors participating. The 3-­‐hour program started with Snighdha Sahal from the Piramal Foundation sharing Piramal’s success in providing clean drinking water to rural and underserved areas through Sarvajal, a for profit venture. Representatives from Samhita then proceeded to take the participants through the DBS-­‐NUS presentation created by NUS Business School professor Wong Poh Kam on a Purpose Driven Approach to Designing a Business Model, which demonstrated how to structure an idea on the lines of a business model approach. This was followed by presentations by 3 mentors who shared their experiences. Soma Vajpayee and Shivani Achrekar of Zaya, a supplemental education provider, illustrated the challenges that every social entrepreneur faces. Payal Shah of Acumen Fund shared the examples of two social enterprises who used the for profit model to scale up capacity and sustainably cater to their beneficiaries.

Before concluding, the participants formed groups of 4-­‐5 and discussed 2 scenarios and created a model based on the 9 building blocks. The respective groups were asked to present their business models.

Impact of the workshop

The following were the key takeaways of the workshop:

1. Refining the business idea

The workshop helped participants think on the lines of a business model approach while developing their ideas. Thus, participants were now able to streamline their ideas keeping in mind sustainability, scalability and the 9 building blocks of a business model.

2. Providing a networking platform

The workshop provided an opportunity for social entrepreneurs to network with people from the social sector. This facilitated knowledge sharing and paved the way for possible future collaboration between the participants.

3. Access to experienced social entrepreneurs

Participants were given an opportunity to learn from and interact with mentors from the social sector who were proponents of the social enterprise model.

4. The importance of measuring social impact

Payal Shah of Acumen Fund stressed on the need to constantly measure impact especially in a social enterprise where a constant balance is sought between money and mission. A major challenge for most social enterprises is achieving a positive double bottom-­‐line of financial viability and social impact. Often, a SE has to make a trade-­‐off between profitability and impact. Acumen Fund created the Acumen Scorecard to help organizations effectively track impact and stay on course to achieving their desired goals.


1. Mentor sessions

The mentor sessions gave the participants an insight into real life success stories. Using their personal experiences the mentors identified with the difficulties faced by social entrepreneurs and provided practical suggestions on how to tackle them. The mentors were very open to questions.

2. Case study session

The case study session gave the participants the opportunity to interact with one another as well as apply the principles taught to them via the presentation. It was a great way to end the workshop.

3. The size of the workshop

The limited size of the workshop allowed each participant to be heard, ask questions and interact with the facilitators. It also enabled all the participants to interact among themselves.