Udhyam Vyapaar

Helping micro-entrepreneurs to scale and succeed by assisting them to increase their Human agency

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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Mehvash Arslan

Initiative's representative date of birth

29 October 1986

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • India

Where are you making a difference?

Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mysore, Pune, Trivandrum

Website or social media url(s)

www.udhyam.org https://www.facebook.com/udhyamfoundation/ https://twitter.com/udhyamorg

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $10k - $50k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

Udhyam’s founder Mekin Maheshwari worked as the Chief People Officer with Flipkart before entering the nonprofit sector. If you ask him the reason he would jokingly call it a mid-life crisis that ended up with him having an increased clarity that his life should be measured by the positive impact he created on the lives of people. From his experience in the HR department of one of India’s largest tech companies, he realized how the future looked bleak for millions of Indians being part of an economy that creates value by deploying higher capital and lower labour. Based on the fundamental belief in entrepreneurship as a powerful alternative to India’s looming job crisis, Udhyam was born.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

With India’s expected increase in the working-age population, the need for immediate growth in job creation becomes imperative. It is evident from India’s high unemployment rate (7.7%) that this target is being failed to achieve. A way to address this lack of job creation is to focus on the micro-enterprise sector which contributes currently to 11% of jobs created in India and is significantly lesser than the 30%-40% in other developing nations.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Udhyam Vyaapar aims to help small grassroots businesses to scale and succeed by assisting them to increase their human agency. We achieve this by engaging closely with these micro-entrepreneurs, understanding their challenges and mentoring them to overcome those challenges using easy to implement business ideas and mindset interventions. Udhyam Vyapaar designs group interventions that focus on exposing micro-entrepreneurs to specific entrepreneurial ways of thinking in an experiential manner. This is done through a curriculum that incorporates activities and experience-based learning aimed at creating mindset changes that result in entrepreneurs becoming more self-equipped and innovative through continuous learning. The core offerings from Udhyam’s entrepreneur mindset transformation interventions are:- Group sessions: We help facilitate activity-based sessions towards building a sense of community amongst the groups, courage to pursue bigger goals, and self-belief to take consistent action. One-to-One session: We work with Vyapaaris to create micro-offerings that can help increase productivity efficiency of existing assets, marketing efforts or new product introductions.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Most of the entrepreneurial training programs focus mainly on providing the micro-entrepreneurs with skill training based on increasing their business knowledge. Various studies have found that the impact of these trainings are usually short-lived and doesn’t often lead to a significant increase in productivity or income growth. Udhyam Vyapar provides stage-wise entrepreneur training focused on creating mindset transformations leading them to be more self-confident and adaptable as business owners. It was found that unlike business training alone, Udhyam’s method of mindset transformation leads to a higher impact on the business growth and their ability to grow and scale in their own capacity.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

Udhyam’s customized entrepreneur training curriculum focuses mainly on creating a mindset transformation among the business owners that empower them to individually improve their human capital necessary to develop skills essential to learn and adapt to the challenges in their business environment. These target goals are achieved through guiding the micro-entrepreneurs through a series of activity-based learning sessions conducted by our trained facilitators through group interventions in their own community. This method enables Vyapaaris to practically apply these concepts and take better, more informed, growth-focused decisions in their businesses. These target groups are identified directly by Udhyam or in association with our external partner organizations. A total of 12-hour learning sessions are divided into 6 individual sessions completed in a 6 week period.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

The six pillars that essentially forms the key focus area while developing our curriculum are Feeling Valued Visioning and Goal Setting Problem solving and Perseverance Trying new things Managing business Financials Managing criticism and Feedback A baseline survey is conducted initially and this base data is used to compare with the data collected after the completion of the training sessions and from the follow-up survey. These surveys collect responses for questions designed to understand the effect of the training on their personal practices and its impact on their businesses.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are various organizations like Selco foundation who have similar training programs that are designed to solve challenges faced by micro-entrepreneurs in both urban and rural environments. Each of these programs target various pain points for the target audience and use different methods to address them. What makes Udhyam stand out from most of these programs is our hard focus on the process of continuous learning through mindset transformations and on our unique target audience. This key factor of mindset intervention is usually overlooked in most of these other training programs.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The monitoring and evaluation team in Udhyam measures income uplift which is measured as an increase of at least 20% in monthly earnings as key criteria of business impact. Engagement in business improvement meetings, marketing for increasing customers and introducing new product lines are measured as indicators of program efficacy. Udhyam Vyapaar has engaged with around 210 micro-entrepreneurs through our customized group interventions and our internal impact measurement team has come up with the following data 65 % of the vyapaaris has reported an income uplift 61 % tried new things 67% started saving 56% saw an increase in the number of customers 70% started keeping accounts 34% made an additional investment into marketing 42% added new products to their business

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Short term: Initial funds generated from investors and donors are used to run pilot projects to develop a sustainable scalable model. Medium term: The successfully piloted projects would be scaled up to other locations using partnership models with like-minded local implementation partners. We will provide facilitator training based on our curriculum and make that a revenue generation model. Long term: In the future, we aim to develop more scalable product interventions that can help these entrepreneurs increase their income and can be used as revenue-sources by Udhyam too. Our expected share of contributions in the future from each funding source is 5% individual donors, 20% corporate donors, 50% grants and 25% generated revenues.

10. Team

Core team constitutes of Founder, Team Lead & Early Team Members- who are in charge of different interventions- product, consulting and group-based. There are also Associates- who join the organization for a period of 1 year and work with different functional areas. In addition, there are Udhyam Saathis (Micro-business consultants) who act as feet on the ground taking the interventions to the entrepreneurs directly. The overall team size is 30 and they come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation:

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Yes/maybe - 25%

Maybe - 25%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

Yes, absolutely! - 25%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 75%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

6. FEEDBACK: Highlights

IMPACT POTENTIAL: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) – and you have a concrete plan for future impact. You have specific tools for measuring impact. - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful solutions - 100%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work operationally and financially in the present and future; your plan is specific and you value sustainability. - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You have a good plan on how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 100%

Other option - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: Areas for Improvement

IMPACT POTENTIAL: make sure to provide specific instances of your social impact (or how you plan to measure impact) – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, the main activities/products, and provide evidence of (or plan for) impact evaluation - 100%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: make sure to describe how your solution is unique and innovative – it is helpful to include the research you have done on past solutions and how your solution is different from (and/or builds upon) these. - 50%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: make sure you describe your plan for how to empower others to become changemakers through your programming, service, or product - 50%

WRITING STYLE. Try to be concise, descriptive, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

Other option - 50%


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