Empowering Sustainable Mobility through Energy Innovation: Social Alpha

FISE / Social Alpha Initiatives

This Story of Impact is part of our United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) feature series. Download our latest report on the SDG Giving Landscape.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

These six Stories of Impact feature the top three most funded and bottom three least funded SDGs by CAF America donors. More information can be found in our SDG Giving Landscape Report released in January 2024.

In the quest for affordable and clean energy in India, the Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE) and its parent organization, Social Alpha, have emerged as a catalyst for transformative change. They envision an India where entrepreneurs have abundant resources to address poverty and inequality, and to foster that, they provide full spectrum support for mission-driven startups that are tackling complex development challenges.

Social Alpha promotes social impact that can scale sustainably, while understanding and addressing the challenges faced by innovators, including market failures, mission deviations, limited scalability, and financial sustainability. They operate a nationwide network of technology and business incubation infrastructure, supported by alliances with Tata Trusts, the Indian government, academic institutions, philanthropic organizations, and corporations.

Through the support of a CAF America grant, FISE initiated an accelerator program, ‘Social Alpha Accelerator for Sustainable Last-mile Logistics,’ aimed at early-stage startups working on electric bicycles and mobility solutions. This program sought technological innovations to quickly convert existing bicycles into electric bikes, providing affordable and accessible e-bikes to populations who might otherwise not be able to access this technology. The end goal of the program was to make transportation more efficient and offer an alternative to traditional gas vehicles, reduce the strain of carrying goods, and ultimately, increase access to livelihood opportunities. The project provided over 500 urban individuals from underserved communities in Indian metro cities (e.g., Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai) with access to clean motorized personal transport.

“Social Alpha believes in the power of innovations to create impact at the grassroots and at scale. We believe that by enabling innovations in their lab to market to communities journey, we can create irreversible impact in the lives of millions. Through the support of CAF America and FedEx, we have been able to demonstrate this impact through our startups that touches the lives of over 500 customers. We truly believe the three products created by the startups through the course of this program are now set up for success and will enable access to motorized mobility for tens of thousands.”

Vidya Phalke, Chief Technology Advisor, Social Alpha

Another successful invention Social Alpha recently developed through CAF America-supported grants to FISE is Accelero Vehicles. The founder, Anant Jain, launched a new electric conversion kit product for rickshaws (tricycle-based cargo carriers). Similar to the e-bike conversion program, this product has the potential to improve the everyday lives of millions who wouldn’t typically have access to this technology—a large portion of the population engaged in rickshaw pulling are underserved individuals and migrant workers. Accelero Vehicle’s focus on impact and sustainability led to a solution that is not only cost-effective and improves the lives of its users, but is also environmentally friendly.

CAF America’s impactful grants with Social Alpha and FISE showcase the power of partnerships that bring together philanthropy, innovation, and industry to forward a complex goal like SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy.

Download the SDG Giving Landscape Report here, and learn more about the great work done by organizations we support by viewing our other Stories of Impact.

About the Author

  • Margot Cunningham

    Margot Cunningham serves as CAF America’s Officer of Marketing and Communications. Her responsibilities include planning, creating, and implementing marketing and communications strategies, with a focus on building awareness of our mission and engaging prospects and donors with long-form content and event opportunities.

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