POLICY ADVOCACY


The Asha Trust works with policymakers and sector experts to build an enabling regulatory environment to help them scale-up of social enterprises and provides thought leadership and convening power to develop the impact investment ecosystem. Its work encompasses two core areas:

The Trust conducts advocacy focussed on identifying and addressing policy bottlenecks to scaling inclusive business models in specific sectors based on learnings from our investments and engagement with sector experts and practitioners and engages with a diverse set of stakeholders to conduct targeted activities aimed at supporting a robust impact investment industry, unlocking new sources of capital for the sector and building social entrepreneurship in India.

Startup Ecosystem


From having a handful of tech companies to dozens and now thousands of innovative new ventures, India's startup ecosystem grew immensely in the past decade touching 55K startups at the end of 2020. To enable Punjab to capitalize on this opportunity, 'Punjab Innovation Mission' was conceptualized as one of the key recommendations of the Group of Experts (GoE) under the chairmanship of Former Deputy Chairperson, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Asha Impact's co-founder, Pramod Bhasin has been nominated as the Mission's first Chairman. The two pillars of the Punjab Innovation Mission will be Pollinator (diaspora outreach, challenges/hackathons, incubator training) and Accelerator (mentorship and acceleration of start-ups through curated mentorship, market access, and investor connect). The 150 Cr sector-agnostic fund will support early-growth stage entrepreneurs in the state and would be steered by marquee investors with global repute. The Punjab Innovation Mission would go a long way in developing a vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurship by leveraging capital, policy, and technology through collaboration with investors, industry, government, academia, and start-ups and by facilitating collaboration among the various incubators.

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Skilling


While millions enter the labour force every year in India, low productivity and employability trends signify a big gap in our education and human resource development models. Roughly one lakh children graduating from Delhi schools each year struggle to navigate pathways that could lead them towards meaningful career opportunities due to severe lack of quality skills training in relevant fields.The Delhi Skill and Entrepreneurship University (DSEU) was established in August 2020 by the Delhi Government to equip these students with world-class skill education by making skilling aspirational and providing opportunities for skilling, up-skilling and reskilling. The course curriculum will reflect the changing requirements of the Industry and focus on career readiness of graduates. Besides filling the existing gaps in skill training, DSEU will also support and nurture entrepreneurs, and provide quality mentorship to steer the entrepreneurial journeys of those interested, by providing incubation, support and constant mentoring. Asha Impact is supporting the Vice Chancellor and the founding team to establish the University structure and programs as well as provide strategic guidance through Pramod Bhasin's role on the Board.

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Setting up India's first Social Stock Exchange


As India's social entrepreneurship ecosystem continues to grow, there is a strong need for financing to keep pace as well. Often the diligence undertaken by donors and Investors is long, strenuous, and repetitive. In July 2019, India's finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman called for the creation of a ''social stock exchange'', allowing ethically minded investors to buy stakes in social enterprises, volunteer groups, and welfare organizations. The Social Stock Exchange is a potential opportunity to bring in diverse pools of capital and standardize processes such as business, legal, and financial due diligence which will be a huge respite for social enterprises and nonprofits which can then better focus on core operations than spend a lot of time on fundraising. An initial Roundtable Consultation on Social Stock Exchanges was organized in September 2019 by Asha Impact along with UNDP's SDG Finance Facility, KPMG, and Impact Investors Council, which invited counsel from 40+ stakeholders ranging from impact funds, foundations, academic research bodies, government, and social enterprises.

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Using CSR funds for pay for performance


India has a $600B annual financing gap to meet its SDG targets. The private sector spends ~Rs. 70,000 crores (as of FY18) towards initiatives leading to inclusive and sustained socio-economic growth. Since private capital is limited, it is imperative to use it effectively. An alternative to making spending effective is to link it to the achievement of outcomes through pay for performance contracts. Pay for performance contracts where outflow only happens when pre-decided social outcomes are achieved, ensure effectiveness in capital deployment, resulting in public sector savings, better delivery of social outcomes, and helps create an evidence base of which interventions work. India presents a unique opportunity to scale these instruments by leveraging CSR capital, which can play an instrumental role in commissioning outcomes. Asha Impact co-led the representation to the MCA along with partners including ATECF, UNDP, KPMG, SFI, and leading CSR foundations, to allow CSR capital to participate as outcome funding in pay for performance contracts.

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Indore: Transforming a city's waste management system


The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 have put the onus on Urban Local Bodies or Municipalities to manage a city's waste. However, ULBs generally lack the know-how of designing and implementing an efficient waste management system. Government interventions such as Swachh Sarvekshan focus on participation from ULBs rather than enhancing their capacity to manage waste. Indore has consistently topped the ranking since 2017 due to an efficient supply chain, leadership in governance, citizen engagement, tri-sector participation and micro-innovations. Asha Impact led an independent research of the Indore model to capture the learnings and created a detailed case study resource to enhance the technical capacity of other ULBs to help them effectively manage their waste and build robust value chains across cities.

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Identifying gaps in EPR Implementation


The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate (MoEFCC) had introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility as part of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. EPR aimed to ensure that the Polluter (Brand-owner, Producer, or Importer) is held responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product right from consumption to disposal. However, several policy gaps have led to an abysmal compliance rate of only 3-4% by brand-owners and producer companies. It is estimated that of the 26,000 tonnes of plastic generated every day, close to two-thirds is recyclable however only 30-40% is recycled. Asha Impact organized a multi-stakeholder consisting of representatives from regulatory agencies, leading FMCG brands, civil society organizations, and startups to identify the key bottlenecks in the EPR policy.

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Beyond off grid- Integrating mini grids with India's evolving electricity system


Up to 250 Mn Indians are not connected to the national grid and the majority of rural consumers have grossly unreliable power supply. Access to energy runs along the fault lines of poverty and inequality, those who are unable to pay for electricity rely on less optimum fuels such as traditional biomass or kerosene lamps. Without basic access, outcomes in the health, education and livelihoods sectors will remain difficult. This report written in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and Okapi Research and Advisory addresses the policy, regulatory, and market infrastructure needed for the two sets of electricity providers ‐ ESCOs and the national grid ‐ to co-exist and collaborate to accelerate energy access.

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Assessment of Building Approvals in Maharashtra and recommendations to streamline building approvals


Complexity and delays in building approvals continue to be one of the major challenges for affordable builders resulting in dampened project IRRs. Other challenges include high cost of land pushing affordable construction to city peripheries, lack of financing for local and mid-sized developers, and an overall lack of data on-demand, land titles, and housing inventory. Asha Impact Trust conducted independent research on existing processes and global best practices and presented its recommendations on building approvals to MCGM.

Building Sustainable cities


The 2011 census indicated that ~30% of India's population resides in cities, and this is projected to grow to ~ 50% by 2050. This rapid urbanization is straining the resources of cities, leading to problems such as land shortage, congested transit, housing shortfall, and is rendering them incapable to provide basic amenities such as clean water, electricity, and green spaces to their residents. Private sector solutions and private capital have a significant role to play in helping deliver and improve quality of life and effective urban services. This report explores the market opportunities that exist in making India's cities more liveable, sustainable, and business-friendly by focusing on the spaces of affordable housing, waste management, and urban governance systems.

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Economics of PPP models in Affordable Housing


Asha Impact provided pro bono advisory support to Niti Aayog to identify key bottlenecks to the growth of affordable housing in India. The Trust conducted extensive research on the economics of Public-Private Partnership models and presented recommendations to address some of these challenges such as unavailability of land, delays in approvals, and lack of incentives for private developers.