Editorial

Moving beyond scale: the importance of capturing feedback from your target audience

Moving beyond scale: the importance of capturing feedback from your target audience

I’ve often heard mission-driven organizations talk about the importance of scale. While reporting large and wide outreach is a commendable goal, it should not preclude measuring the depth of impact.

Pioneering Capital Must Feed the Growth of the Impact Economy

Pioneering Capital Must Feed the Growth of the Impact Economy

In our collective quest to grow the impact economy, we should not lose sight of the full set of actors, tools, and methods that are needed in concert to effect disruptive change. Namely, we must not overlook the earliest stages of social enterprise innovation, the so-called “Pioneer Gap” that still remains stubbornly under-funded.

Where are the Jobs? Findings and Insights from Upaya’s Accelerator Application Process

Where are the Jobs? Findings and Insights from Upaya’s Accelerator Application Process

What can the applications for Upaya’s accelerator program tell us about the early-stage companies that are creating jobs for people in extreme poverty? Upaya’s India Country Director, Amit Alex, takes a closer look at the pool of applicants to answer a pressing question in India today: Where are the jobs?

The Need of the Hour: Agri-Business Innovation

The Need of the Hour: Agri-Business Innovation

Farmers around the world face intense pressure. Steadily rising cost of inputs, combined with downward pressure on prices, and price volatility in general, make it difficult to predict how much income one can earn in any given season. Despite the grim trends, I am optimistic that dedicated entrepreneurs and creative business models can usher in the operational and technological innovations that are needed.

Pioneering Capital: Opportunities for Impact Investors

Pioneering Capital: Opportunities for Impact Investors

In a piece written for NextBillion.net, Upaya's CEO, Sachi Shenoy, and board member, Nathan Byrd, discuss the challenges and opportunities around pioneering capital, and how impact investors can do so much more with much less. 

Scaling Mountains to Get to Scale

Letter from Executive Director, Sachi Shenoy

I’m not a marathon runner. Or a triathlete. Or a mountain climber. In fact, you could say that my only “extreme” passion is my obsession with fighting poverty at Upaya. 

That being said, 2015 was my Everest.

When we started Upaya nearly 5 years ago, I knew this would be the hardest work I'd ever done. What I didn’t know was that in 2015, earthquakes, floods and fires would threaten our own offices and our partners', and that our team would be challenged by life-threatening illnesses and staff transitions.

Even in the face of all this adversity, even with this mountain to climb, 2015 has also been our greatest success. Thanks to our team’s dedication and tenacity, we:

  • Doubled Upaya’s investment portfolio! (10 partners and counting...)
  • Attracted 5x in follow-on investment capital
  • Had our 1st exit (and capital reinvestment)
  • Doubled our job numbers: Upaya’s partners are now employing 2,329 individuals

The tough stuff is not often featured in year-end letters from small non-profits, but I think it’s an important story to tell. It is not only authentic, it exemplifies our spirit of resilience and teamwork. These are also the same traits we admire in our portfolio partners and their employees. Our newsletter includes profiles of two other fearless individuals: Jamuna and Wilma. I hope you read their stories. Their struggles and successes continue to fuel my commitment to this work, and have helped me raise the bar for 2016.

Next year, our goal is to double our outreach once again, and create over 5,000 jobs in 2016 for families like Jamuna’s. As I share these aspirations, I also extend my deepest gratitude. This work wouldn’t be possible without our very dedicated “base camp” team: You! I thank you sincerely for making this rocky year one that ended with such celebration and victory.

So, I take back what I said. I AM a mountain climber. At Upaya, we all are. We are the risk takers. The do-ers. The believers that it can be done.

Thank you for being a part of this hard, beautiful, life-changing work.

Sincerely,

Sachi Shenoy
Executive Director