Pioneer Gap

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.

Catch Upaya Onstage at Sankalp Unconvention Summit 2014!


Upaya's Sreejith Nedumpully will join a panel of industry leaders to discuss the experience of supporting promising entrepreneurs in their earliest days.

Bridging the Pioneer Gap: Are We Meeting the Needs of Social Startups & What Can We Do Better?

11:45 AM - 1:15 PM, April 11 2014

Grand Ballroom A3

Hotel Renaissance, Powai, Mumbai

Over the past few years we have heard the conversation about the needs of businesses in the “Pioneer Gap“ reach a fever pitch – particularly in a frothy impact investment market that finds itself starving for more established, less risky opportunities. At the same time, a chorus of ambitious social entrepreneurs with promising models talks about finding themselves in a desert of funding and advisory support. The reality is that, if we rely on traditional venture capital models, most social investment funds will be financially unable to find, fund, and advise these companies in their infancy.

With the majority of these entrepreneurs exhausting their limited runways long before their transformative potential can be realized, there is a strong need to mobilize our peers and create an ecosystem for Pioneering Capital to fill the gap. The assembled panel will explore what’s working, what’s not, and what steps the sector can take to mobilize more resources for the next generation of effective social enterprises.


Ashish Karamchandani, Partner, Monitor Group


Sreejith Nedumpully, Director, Business Development Upaya Social Ventures

Harish Hande, MD, SELCO

Aditi Shrivastava, Head, Intellecap Impact Investment Network

Simon Desjardins, Programme Manager, Shell Foundation

Paul Breloff, Managing Director, Accion Venture Lab


Upaya Joins Grassroots Business Fund, Lumana at SOCAP13

Bringing the exploration of the Pioneer Gap to one of the nation's largest social enterprise gatherings, Upaya Board Chair Kate Cochran presented alongside Grassroots Business Fund COO Robert Webster and Lumana Village Ventures co-founder Sammie Rayner at the Social Capital Markets 2013 (SOCAP13) conference in San Francisco. 

Moderated by Managing Editor Scott Anderson, the panel explored the challenges impact investors face in supporting entrepreneurs in the startup phase and how different organizations  - Upaya included - have developed creative models for filling the void.


(L to R) Scott Anderson, Kate Cochran, Robert Webster, and Sammie Rayner discuss enterprise support in the Pioneer Gap at SOCAP13.

"It is exciting to see how much interest there is in nurturing early stage social enterprises, as well as the acknowledgement that this stage of investment is best served by philanthropic capital--from foundations, the public sector, and individuals," said Cochran. "Although our panel included people working at different points in the continuum--some providing returns and some not--we all agreed that priming the pump with "public good" money is the best way to build a thriving ecosystem for impact investing," she said.


The SOCAP13 audience posed questions to the panelists about the opportunities and challenges of supporting early-stage businesses.