The following diagram depicts the roles adopted by Mahindra Finance and the SGB (Flybird), the nature of support provided and the intended objectives of the engagement.
Synergies in the engagement
Through its engagement with Flybird Innovations, Mahindra Finance is fulfilling both its corporate mission to positively impact communities and its CSR objectives. It also enables Villgro to extend and intensify its incubation support to Flybird Innovations.
Notes on the facilitator’s role
• NextGen PMS Pvt. Ltd (operating in the CSR and sustainability space), in line with Mahindra Finance’s CSR and corporate vision, provided inputs on structuring the engagement model. NextGen facilitated the scouting process for a suitable incubator, which resulted in the selection of Villgro, an incubator with a focus on providing support to enterprises that work to improve poor
• Access to networks
• Strategic guidance
FlyBird Innovations Incubator
Developing smart irrigation systems and automating irrigation and fertilisation processes to improve yields
Villgro External intermediary
NextGen CSR and sustainability
Periodic review sessions
(grant) Funding support
(grant and/or equity)
Support scoutingfor Mahindra
existing competencies. Based on Villgro’s recommendation, Mahindra Finance selected Flybird Innovations, a Bengaluru- based start-up that aims to solve farmers’
irrigation-related problems by developing smart irrigation systems and automating the fertilisation and irrigation process to improve yields.
• Prior to Flybird Innovations, NextGen had assisted Mahindra Finance with the following engagements:
o Sickle Innovations, an SGB focused on the design of harvesting solutions for cotton and sugarcane growers. This engagement was facilitated by the CIIE of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, a DST-certified technology business incubator (intermediary).
Programme structure and chain of impact The following table contains information on the Mahindra Finance CSR engagement that was
The corporate’s engagement with the SGB has been facilitated by various stakeholders who have expertise in their own domain, and this has enabled Mahindra Finance to deliver focused interventions.
The corporate engagement has benefited the SGB, as the latter now has more confidence when seeking to raise funding from external sources. Additionally, the funding provided to the SGB proved to be a key factor in its achieving
facilitated by Villgro. The programme builds on the experiences Mahindra Finance gained in its prior engagements with SustainEarth Energy Solutions and Sickle Innovation.
significant progress with prototypes and product development.
Assessment of the engagement model Strengths
In this engagement model, corporate CSR funds are used to support SGBs that operate in business-aligned segments. This key feature of the model enables the corporate to leverage its network and assets commensurate to its expected role in the engagement.
Financial support in the form of a grant (to Villgro), which Villgro then invested in Flybird Innovations (equity investment)
Non-financial support in the form of incubation, which included mentoring, business and sector expertise and advice (provided by Villgro)
• Access to networks (through Villgro)
• Mentors provided by Villgro
• The support typically lasts 24 months Scouting
method • NextGen (a body that facilitates CSR engagements) refers suitable agribusiness SGBs Performance
assessment • Regular performance reviews in collaboration with NextGen and Villgro Criteria for
success • Successful graduation (of Flybird Innovations) from Villgro’s incubation programme
• The SGBs use the funding they receive for its intended purposes Programme
history • Number of SGBs supported so far: four (Sickle Innovations, SustainEarth Energy Solutions, Flybird Innovations and Kinetic Machine – with NextGen offering facilitation services)
o Number of successful SGBs: two
o Tentative approach for scaling up or deepening engagements:
o Scaling up support to two incubators per year o Enhanced focus on agribusiness SGBs
• Increased funding that resulted in widening market coverage.
• Enhanced capability for scaling up.
• Example of a structured approach where CSR funds were channelled through an intermediary.
• Promoting the sustainability of SGBs that focus on solving the difficulties faced by rural consumers (primarily agro-focused).
• Making explicit the role played by intermediaries in the start-up ecosystem.
• Increasing FlyBird’s impact on rural farmers by scaling up its activities.
Output Outcome Impact
High involvement Low involvement
The engagement model aims to achieve scalable and sustainable impacts on the innovation processes of social enterprises that target the poor/rural market.
Mahindra Finance is keen to expand its involvement. For example, it has shared its networks and reach in rural markets with the SGBs to widen their market access, and it has enabled in-house employees with expertise in sales and marketing to engage with SGBs and transfer relevant skill sets (marketing, product development and field testing).
The engagement model has the potential to be scaled up to an appropriate level, bringing together SGBs with complementary and synergistic solution strategies.
Ongoing efforts are needed to monitor the level of involvement between the corporate and the SGBs. The intermediary – an incubator – is ideally placed to assess the required levels of involvement and could therefore design initiatives that enable stakeholders to increase their value realisation.
One of the key takeaways here is the importance of appropriately structuring engagements. With the right structure in place, CSR funds can be channelled effectively through appropriate intermediaries to create a sustainable impact on the scaling capacity of SGBs operating in the same domain as the corporate.