A startup challenge called the Prosus Social Impact Challenge for Accessibility (Prosus SICA) has been launched by Prosus, the global consumer internet group of Naspers, in collaboration with Invest India and Social Alpha. The challenge is open to Indian startups that are less than 10 years old and recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade/Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The challenge is focused on innovative ideas that address the challenges faced by persons with disabilities.

Prosus is committing INR 16,500,000 over three years to Prosus SICA, and will award grants to the top three startups each year. Startup India Hub will host the programme on its website. 

The criteria for the winning products and services are: socially impactful, technologically innovative, sustainable, scalable, and capable of introducing positive change in the lives of persons with disabilities. The winner will receive INR 2,500,000, second place INR 1,800,000, and third place INR 1,200,000. 

To qualify, the product has to be in its final stages of launch (a developed prototype) or completed user validation. The submissions will undergo screening by a jury, a thorough evaluation by sector experts, and end-user interviews followed by demonstration of the use case. 

In addition to the grant, eligible startups will also receive an opportunity to incubate with Social Alpha. The winning startups will also be inducted into the Prosus SICA mentorship programme where they will benefit from Prosus’s experience and resources in supporting entrepreneurs.

Participants can learn more about the challenge and application process on the Startup India Hub http://bit.ly/ProsusSICA

The application process will be open until 12 October 2020.

In a press release shared with CB, Aileen O’Toole, chief people officer, Prosus, said: ‘Indian entrepreneurs are shaping an exciting future and building businesses that address unique societal needs. Prosus would like to support startups in India working on assistive technologies to enhance life for persons with disabilities. In addition to financial grants, Prosus, along with our partners, will also provide technical support, mentorship, and business advice.’

Manoj Kumar, chairman & founder, Social Alpha, said: ‘In India, there is a huge shortage of high-quality and affordable assistive technology solutions that can empower persons with disabilities. We need to encourage commercial investment in innovations that can cater to persons with disabilities.’