Where are the Best Practices in Funding Youth-Led Systems Change?


Saransh Maheshwari


2 min read

Co-Author: Amanda Kee

Objective of the Webinar

More than 50% of youths across emerging Southeast Asian markets who participated in AVPN’s youth priority study said they struggled with their mental health within the last one month. In India alone, 383 youths die by suicide everyday. The silver lining is that many funders are finally starting to recognise that mental health in Asia must become a top priority for youth development.

Yet, there is still a lack of long-term capital in fields such as mental wellbeing and social-emotional learning. Often deemed separate from mainstream education curriculum and healthcare services, these intersectional solutions often do not have the resources to keep up with the growing demand for such support.

In this context, AVPN organized the webinar on Best Practices in Funding Under-Supported Youth Interventions for Systems Change on 20th October for funders to learn best practices and explore innovative financing vehicles in order to make equitable, long term investments. At the same time, entrepreneurs can also evaluate their position, and find tangible ways to become more funder-ready.

Key Highlights from Fireside Chat between Richa and Supriya

  • One of the key challenges for early stage startups or for young founders is to advocate for and demonstrate the impact of systems change. One of the best support that funders can give to founders is early stage, unrestricted funding. This can provide an enabling environment for founders to take risks and fail, demonstrate faith in their long term vision, and a deep understanding of the growth process.
  • Funders must acknowledge the funding gap in India, in which funders typically invest in programmes rather than in the organisations. This limits vision, and there is a call for funders to shift mindsets, because good programmes are products of a good organisation.
  • Both Richa and Supriya encouraged founders to have open conversations with funders to pilot initiatives, be bold in building a strong and large vision, and keep the importance of building evidence bases are important as the organisation grows.

Identified Ecosystem Priorities

  • Funders must take the time to intimately know the issues that they want to tackle in order to walk alongside the impact organisations. This way, funders can provide more tailored funding support to meet the dynamic needs of young people.
  • There is a need to develop a more transparent ecosystem to understand where the needs are, who the players are, and what types of capital are required.
  • There is a need for more equitable funding to support women-led organisations and youth-led organisations.
  • While there is a need to pay attention to emerging or under-focused communities, we also need to pay close attention to ‘traditional’ youth development areas to ensure continuous innovation.


A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training


Saransh Maheshwari

Associate, South Asia at AVPN

Saransh joined AVPN in December 2021 as a Product Associate for South Asia. His role primarily entails supporting the product team and working closely with the social sector to propel impact organisations who embody such models and solutions to scale and spread their impact.

Prior joining to AVPN, Saransh has interned in some of the emerging start-ups in India from sectors like supply chain and ed-tech. ​His last stint as a Strategy Consultant was with Sight and Life a Swiss-based think-tank. In this role, he developed a feasibility study and business model to improve the availability and affordability of fish in low & middle-income countries.

Saransh holds degree in Bachelors of Management Studies from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (University of Delhi). As a social entrepreneur at Enactus SSCBS, Saransh led the project Khidki aimed to eradicate malnutrition between the age brackets of 2-6 years from urban slum clusters of East Delhi.

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