Tata Fellow Verma creates social enterprise to empower entrepreneurs from tier II cities in India

The team aims to nurture social innovators from tier II cities in India through the lens of systems thinking.

Tata Center | October 21, 2020

A team of passionate social entrepreneurs, volunteers, and MIT, Harvard alum led by MIT Tata Fellow Piyush Verma, has created a social enterprise in India that aims to empower underserved social innovators and entrepreneurs, especially from tier II cities of India. The team is advised by the MIT Tata Center Academic Director and Senior Lecturer at Sloan School of Management Chintan Vaishnav and Head of the Design Department at IIT Delhi, Prof PVM Rao, among other academic and industry experts. The team is developing an accelerator program for social entrepreneurs that focuses on design thinking, creative capacity building, systems thinking, and network access. Manush Labs is based in India and registered as a Section 8 Non-Profit independent and autonomous organization. 

Much like the Tata Center at MIT, Piyush’s team aims to nurture social innovators from tier II cities in India through the lens of systems thinking. According to the last economic survey, almost half of India’s over 16,000 recognized startups have come from Tier II and III cities, growing at a rate of 45-50% every year since 2014. 

MIT alum Verma, who was associated with the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design from 2018-20 as Tata Fellow, is also an alum of the IIT Delhi Department of Design and has more than five years of experience in the design and innovation sector. Coming from a tier II city in India, he is well-versed with the challenges faced by underserved innovators of in the country. “Covid has pushed back the development efforts of India by many years. To tackle such enormous socio-economic challenges, we would need scalable innovation and entrepreneurial ideas. Currently, the entrepreneurship ecosystem is disproportionately inclined towards a handful of metro cities in India. We aim to empower innovators from underrepresented cities and towns so that they become substantial contributors towards progress during this time of uncertainty,” he said. Manush Labs is supported by Social Alpha, a Tata Trusts initiative that aims to strengthen India’s science and technology startup ecosystem. Manush Labs has also received support from several entrepreneurship institutions across MIT and Harvard, including MIT Sandbox and Harvard I Labs.

Manush Labs is launching its first sustainability accelerator on food and agriculture. It’s a 10-week intensive hands-on and collaborative program for early-stage social startups and SMEs. The program aims to provide participants with technical and business guidance, investor networks, market access, tools, partnerships, and information needed to scale their venture ideas. The deadline to apply for the program is 10th November 2020 (11:59 pm IST). 

Early stage social innovators from India can apply at: https://www.manushlabs.org/sustainability-accelerator

More more information please reach out to info@manushlabs.org


The Tata Center at MIT is supported by the Tata Trusts, one of India’s oldest philanthropic organizations.