7 weeks of outreach, 50 days of meeting, engaging, dialoguing with some of the brightest, most committed minds involved in creating social impact across India. And an overwhelming 264 proposals received  from organizations seeking funding to scale their projects with support from the India Development Marketplace 2011 . The response is extraordinary given the fact that this version of the India DM is focused on enabling Scale.
Therefore these are not start-up ideas – but instead are more mature models that are already demonstrating at least 2 years of operational existence, a movement towards financial sustainability, a reasonable clarity in their unit costs and a demonstrated and valuable social impact that can be replicated.
Organizations from 15 States across India have responded with detailed proposals for replicating or scaling their projects within the States of Rajasthan, Bihar and Orissa.
21% of the proposals are focused on scale and replication in the State of Bihar,
30% for scale and replication in the state of Rajasthan,
33% of the proposals wish to replicate and scale in Orissa,
and 16% of the proposals have indicated a plan for replication in more than 1 Target State.
These proposals represent a strong base of ideas that are helping to evolve innovative, local solutions to very challenging issues – ranging from health, water, sanitation, energy, education, agriculture and livelihoods. Read about some of the organizations and teams who we met during the outreach on the Development Marketplace Blog  and the Innovation Alchemy Blog .
An entrepreneur shared passionately “You know what happens in Bihar after 6 pm? Darkness. Across the State, because there is no electricity in the villages. But when I walk across our power plant (Biogass/ wasteplants) and look over at the villages surrounding us – I see the white light of CFLs in each house…lighting up homes. Kids can study, women can cook , men can work late. All this at less than $2 per month per family. 250 villages now have access to electricity, produced locally – off the grid!”
Several such social entrepreneurs are stepping up to create the products, ideas and services and where possible these are ‘paid for‘ services designed by innovating on the business model that makes each poor home able to access them easily.
Its important to understand that complementing these models are livelihood creating projects – Litchi farming, pig rearing, earthen cook ware production, organized vegetable retailing, community teaching, language games and a whole host of models that create the ground for enhanced incomes – without which families would not be able to afford any new services, helping build the entire ecosystem towards better livelihood and living quality. This is further enhanced by innovative education programmes that are ensuring that children study and evolve fast – helping build the next generation of educated citizens.
This complementarity of preparatory ideas, development efforts and entrepreneurial projects emerges as a very important ingredient for long term sustainability of growth - especially in low income regions such as Bihar, Orissa and Rajasthan.
While traditionally the Bank funds large scale, State based interventions, the DM creates a platform to complement that by creating a pool of early stage projects/ initiatives that support innovative, effective ideas providing non-linear, ways to achieve development – powered by local entrepreneurs, innovators and development professionals.
The Development Marketplace Grants support the initial preparatory activities within entrepreneurial projects with potential in a way that is necessary to present a credible and robust funding request to providers of growth finance including working capital, in the long run.
The most difficult transition into financial sustainability is really for traditional non-profits – who struggle to evolve hybrid models that have a paid service approach. Usually such experiments have limited access to preparatory funding – and therefore take a long time to evolve and grow into replicable models. And that’s the gap that DM is seeking to fulfill with such Country initiatives.
This is an important set of experiments – and there is no better place than India to work through this type of an integrated approach. As this evolves over the next few months it will be clear how this can be replicated across several other regions of India and other parts of the developing world.
The submitted proposals will be now be put through a rigourous 4-eye principle, with independent assessors looking at each proposal – selecting a set of 30 proposals as a shortlist for the India DM event in Jaipur during early April 2011. This will be an online process using the DM platform.
The final shortlisted proposals will be reviewed by a Jury during the April 2011 DM event – and a set of 13 projects will be identified for funding and support.
More details on this process are on the Website .