Indian entrepreneurs plan to replicate Silicon Valley model in developing countries

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018

Anu Shah, co-founder and CEO, EFI Hub

Set up a global incubator to help start-ups stay afloat, scale up

Many start-ups worldwide fail due to lack of direction, resources and financing. Now, a bunch of Indian entrepreneurs have joined hands to set up a global incubator that will help start-ups in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America not just stay afloat but also scale up.

Co-founded by Anu Shah at Harvard University, EFI Hub is looking to recreate the Silicon Valley model across the world by collaborating with regulatory agencies, investors, mentors and young entrepreneurs.

The incubator counts several young Indian entrepreneurs and investors — such as Dhruvil Sanghvi, founder of logistics and field service automation company LogiNext; Ritesh Mallik’, founder of co-working space start-up Innov8, and Saket Modi, founder of cyber security solution provider Lucideus — among its advisors. It is also looking to have more entrepreneurs from other countries as advisors. Talking to BusinessLine, Shah said the idea of creating a global platform struck her in 2016 while working with an Australian investment firm Acorn Capital ehen she had to travel to Rwanda in East Africa to work on empowering communities in that country.

It was then Shah met the CEO of a local craft brewery that was run and operated by only women, and was looking to raise funds from Acorn Capital. The brewery used as many local ingredients as possible from nearby cooperatives that provided employment for women who grew and harvested crops. The CEO was not only building a livelihood for herself but also empowering other women in the community. However, she lacked experience in the brewery business and the deal did not materialise.

“Professionally, I knew I had to turn down the deal as she lacked experience in the brewery businesses, had no experienced mentors and board members, and was not able to prepare an investment pitch; and this made her business a poor investment choice for Acorn. But something told me this was my chance — my chance to honour those like me. I knew I could help her and I decided to consult for her business on a pro bono basis,” Shah said, adding that she connected that CEO to the owner of a craft brewery in Toronto, a business in which Acorn Capital had invested in.

The company has so far raised about $110,000 through crowd-funding. Shah said her stint in Harvard University in 2017 has given her much needed support and mentors from her classmates and professors.

In the last one year, EFI Hub has incubated start-ups in the two emerging and frontier markets of Asia and Africa. In the next 2-3 years, it wants to scale this model and expand into major economic power hubs including India, Singapore, Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda by consolidating a network of government intermediaries, investors, entrepreneurs and industry experts to accelerate the growth of start-ups.

The incubator is exploring partnerships with the International Finance Corporation, World Bank and the Rwanda Development Board. In India, it is talking to the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Invest India, a government initiative to boost investments among new businesses.

“It’s a symbiotic relation between all the energetic, ambitious and enterprising start-ups emerging from a region, and the current and future economic stability of that region,” said Sanghvi of LogiNext. “We, as a business and social community, should invest time and effort to guide and direct these budding entrepreneurs to ensure the start-up cycle never dries up.”

Published on August 17, 2017

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