nesta report

This report looks at strategies for social venture incubation in challenging places.

Key findings

  • In India, the types of incubators working with social ventures – from Government-funded incubators to privately funded social innovation specialists – and support models used are very diverse. Like social ventures, however, Indian incubators are still mainly clustered around hotspots in higher-income states.
  • Good social incubation programmes are designed around the needs of social entrepreneurs, built from their insights and experiences, deployed, tested and continuously improved.
  • While good programme design is important, there are other success factors including, for example, the experience of incubator managers and teams, good governance processes, or developing new funding models to achieve sustainable business models.
  • Incubators operating in challenging contexts need an extra set of competencies like networking and stakeholder management; facilitating, collaborating and connecting; problem-solving and creativity; influencing policy; and regional language skills and cultural sensitivity.

Throughout the last year, we’ve been working in partnership with DfID India to carry out a landscape study of social incubation in India and provide a set of recommendations for DfID’s INVENT programme, which aims to support social venture development, ultimately benefiting India’s low-income states and the poorest fringes of the population.

Building on Nesta’s 2014 Good Incubation report, this research draws on case studies to highlight strategies for good incubation in challenging environments. It focuses on weaker entrepreneurial ecosystems, not as dense as metropolises like New Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai. Our report offers advice to incubation managers and other ecosystem players, from policymakers to funders alike. We hope our recommendations will speak to incubation communities worldwide, and that India’s experience will inspire other low-income countries around the world.

View the full report here.