Bright sparks

Spark the rise returns for a second year, providing much-needed support to the country's fledgling social entrepeneurs.

Author Anna Rees, 09.18.12

Spark the rise returns for a second year, providing much-needed support to the country’s fledgling social entrepeneurs.

A great man once claimed “you can’t start a fire without a spark”. That great man is Bruce Springsteen (no, his greatness is not up for debate) and, as is always the case with the Boss, the man knows what he is talking about. Putting that phrase into the context of sustainable development, it becomes painfully clear that positive change does not come about without someone taking initiative to get the ball rolling, whether it be merely having an idea or implementing small actions to execute that idea.

The team behind Spark the Rise (a CSR project of Mahindra) aims to provide a helping hand to anyone brave enough to, ahem, light the proverbial fire. The initiative encourages and assists anybody involved in social projects that are driving positive change. People can nominate a social project or idea to compete for one of 12 grants each month (eight of these grants go to projects and four go to idea proposals) over a six month period (now until mid-March 2013).

The top two projects and top idea from each month will then go on to compete in the Grand Finale, to be held next year. Finalists will have the chance to win 40 lakh (for the winning project) and 20 lakh (for the winning idea). Originally launched last year, the initiative is returning for a second round this year and aims to create a large, working hub of socially-minded entrepreneurs and volunteers.

Providing more than just financial gains, the initiative offers participants the chance to expose their project or idea to a wider audience, network with likeminded people and collaborate and interact on a whole number of projects. Last year’s winners include creators of an efficient, eco-friendly air conditioning and refrigeration system; the inventor of a dropdown cord and rod which attaches to ceiling fans to prevent suicide by hanging; and a group that makes nonwoven bags and is trying to use these to replace polythene plastic bags. Check out the rest of the winners here for a little inspiration.

There’s a saying that’s trotted out whenever things seem difficult, beyond our reach or change seems too far off and that is “there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel”. Someone once commented to me that if you really want things to change, you’d better go down to the end of the tunnel and light the thing yourself.

Author: Anna Rees/ RESET editorial

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