Catalyzing livelihoods

Most social organisations have their goals set regarding what they want to help society with. While there are many causes to address, Social Venture Partners (India) has picked jobs and income enhancement as its focus area. The reason is simple. “We see the jobs challenge as one of the more significant challenges faced by every country, especially India,” says Ravi Venkatesan, managing partner, Unitus Seed Fund and former chairman, Microsoft India. According to Venkatesan, after the boom years of 2005-10, job creation, particularly the big IT job engine, actually slowed down over the last few years. Now, its jobless growth.

The idea is to create jobs. So when SVP India recently hosted the Million Jobs Mission Conclave, it brought together 15 of India’s social organizations, and over 50 consortium partners to collaborate on creating 1 million jobs in the next five years. The Conclave showcased these 15 social organizations, who presented their model to create a cumulative of 100,000+ sustainable livelihoods each, in the next five years. Over 100 participants from SVP’s consortium partners – representing foundations, corporates, impact investors, global multilateral agencies, consulting organizations, Government, and academia – actively engaged with these organizations and made commitments of support – from access to funding, strategic inputs, leadership development, go-to-market connects and governance/Board support. According to Atul Satija, co-founder of The Nudge Foundation, “It would have taken me four months of travel to meet some of these consortium partners to support our goal. Today, I got them all in one room, engaging in serious conversation with us on how to go forward. What more could I have asked for!”

Madan Padaki, co-founder & trustee of Head Held High Foundation and co-convener of the Million Jobs Mission (MJM), is pleased with the outcome. “We never expected this level of participation. Just shows that the idea and concept was so powerful,” he says.

Says Sanjukyta Rajguru, MD & CEO, SBI Foundation, “The conclave exposed me to a panorama of work that these social organizations are doing – some I already knew of, and many I didn’t – and these will help me make more informed decisions. Now that I know, I can think of many ways funders like us can reach credible organizations and beneficiaries”

Initially, modest grants were a way of getting started. However, the organisation needed to punch at the right altitude. A mission statement was crafted – to help create 1 million jobs in the next five years. And create a movement with 1,000 engaged philanthropists across India in the same time frame.

Let’s step back a bit. Who is SVP? Well, SVP is a philanthropic organisation that was started in Seattle, USA, in 1998, by ex-Microsoft employees, Tim Sharpman and Paul Schumacker. It is the world’s largest network of engaged philanthropists, with over 3,500 investor-donors across 39 cites, in eight countries (U.S, Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea and United Kingdom).

In India, Social Venture Partners India was founded in May, 2012 in Bengaluru by Venkatesan. He asked like-minded people to get their toes wet, and start their philanthropic journey. So SVP began by copy-pasting what was done in the US to India. After the positive response that it got in Bengaluru (they have 90 partners), branches were started in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and most recently, in Hyderabad. Today the SVP Bangalore chapter is chaired by Jogin Desai, CEO, EyeStem; the Pune chapter is chaired by Ganesh Natarajan, chairman, 5F World; the Mumbai chapter is chaired by Govind Iyer, MD, Egon Zehnder; the Delhi chapter by Rajeev Bakshi, MD, Metro Cash and Carry India, and the Hyderabad chapter by Ajit Rangnekar, former Dean of Indian School of Business.

Venture Philanthropy is very different from philanthropy that is practised more broadly, which is simply called `cheque book’ philanthropy – you write a cheque, you give money towards something you feel good about, or an organisation that is doing work that you identify with. SVP does more that. It picks organisations that are doing work that is scalable, and it engages with them in the same manner as venture capitalists engage with portfolio companies. They don’t just provide money, but far more importantly, they provide expertise and time and access to its networks, etc.

SVP India’s national focus is to make a dent in poverty through catalyzing livelihoods at the bottom of the pyramid. It focuses on organizations that work to promote livelihoods – be it through income augmentation, vocational skills training and placement, or micro-enterprise development. The key areas of investment are micro enterprises, skill training, health livelihoods, agri-livelihoods and waste management.

Though in the social space there is a lot of work happening in cylos, the MJM is a way to convene and bring all the like-minded organisations together to work collaboratively. For the last four years, SVP India has been quietly incubating what is becoming a movement bringing together successful people who care about what is happening in society, finding a way for them to get engaged. While till now what it has done has been largely below the radar, it is now important that it gets a lot more awareness and engagement.

The return of Bally


After a lull of two years, the iconic Italian luxury brand Bally, is making its way back to India. Teaming up with Reliance Brands Ltd., Bally will open its first store at DLF Emporio in New Delhi in March 2017. Under the terms of the agreement, the joint venture will have exclusive distribution and marketing rights for Bally in the country.

Bally had previously entered the Indian market with the New Delhi based Bird Group. However, the partnership was terminated in 2014.

The new store is part of the brand’s global expansión, which has seen the opening of two new concept flagship stores in Tokyo’s Ginza and Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive earlier this year. In India, Bally and Reliance are looking at further expansion in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in the future.  Frederic de Narp, CEO of Bally is excited about this joint venture. “Joining forces with a partner of this calibre makes us very confident that we can be relevant and successful in the market. Indian consumers are very discerning and have an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship, the demands for which Bally is perfectly suited to meet,” he says.

Reliance Brands has a mandate to launch and build international and domestic brand equity in the premium to luxury segment across apparel, footwear and lifestyle business. Its current portfolio of brand partnerships comprises of, to mention a few, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Brooks Brothers, Diesel, Dune, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gas, Kenneth Cole, Muji, Paul & Shark, Reiss, Steve Madden.

Steeped in rich heritage, Bally is one of the first luxury shoemakers, internationally. From the onset, it brought together, form and function in shoe design, produced with excellence, boldness and creativity. 165 years later, the name Bally stands for authentic Swiss design and quality. The brand offers elegant and timeless designs across various categories including accessories, ready-to-wear and eyewear.

As with many other luxury brands, Bally too faced a slow-down in the early 2000s. In 2013, Frederic de Nap was brought in to turn around the iconic brand. De Nap has to his credit the successful turnaround of Harry Winston Inc., the famed American jeweller and watchmaker. In 2014, Pablo Coppola was appointed design director for all Bally collections – ready to wear, shoes, handbags and accessories, as well as overall brand image and communications. Since his arrival at Bally, Coppola has led the new design direction for the brand, in a period that heralds a new chapter for Bally.




All art and soul


A large canvas painted during the third art camp in 1998, representing the joint efforts of Manjit Bawa, Pritipal Ladi, Ranvinder Reddy, Surendran Nair, Nalini Malini, Dhruva Mistry, Paramjit Singh, Arpita Singh and Jayashree Chakravarty. 

Christie’s fourth consecutive India sale in Mumbai on December 18, promises to be an interesting one. Leading the auction is Bengaluru based Abhishek and Radhika Poddar’s collection of modern Indian art, painstakingly built over the past 30 years.

A total of 41 lots will be offered from this collection, including important works by Tyeb Mehta, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Ganesh Pyne, Meera Mukherjee, Bhupen Khakhar and several other modern Indian artists. According to Sonal Singh, Head of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, head of department, Christie’s, Mumbai, while outside of India there have been lager private collections offered for auction, for India, this is one of the most important collections from a living collector to come to auction.

As each work is either acquired directly from the artist or from leading gallerists, each lot comes with an immaculate provenance. At the heart of the collection are seven works by Manjit Bawa, whom Abhishek met way back in 1987. According to Singh, the auction estimate for any work of art is based on several factors, including recent prices achieved for similar works by the artist, the object’s rarity, and its overall condition. “Since most of these works have been acquired directly from the artists, they have not been exhibited, published or offered for sale before, increasing their rarity,” she says.

Its not easy deciding which works to put up on auction, especially since each work has a personal tale behind it. For Abhishek, it was tough deciding which works to put up for auction. The catalogue essay emphasises on the Poddars building one of India’s most comprehensive collections of modern and contemporary art, antiquities, folk and tribal art, and textiles. The collection also reflects their longstanding personal relationships with artists, gallerists and scholars, as well as their knowledge and connoisseurship which developed over the years. Their collecting has always been based on an innate respect for the arts, and a drive to learn about and document the country’s diverse cultural landscape. “When putting up your works in a public domain, the choice of works had to tie in with the essay,” says Abhishek. Now, the collection is growing indifferent directions.

The highest valued work from the collection is Tyeb Mehta’s Untitled Diagonal), 1975wabhishek3hich shows two human figures, from the artist’s diagonal series (Lot 111, estimate: INR10,00,00,000 – 15,00,00,000 / US$1.5 – 2.2 million). This was an important acquisition for the Poddars from the late Kekoo Gandhy’s Gallery Chemould in Mumbai. It was also at Chemould that the Poddars also acquired the Gaitonde in the sale, a 1973 abstract work (Lot 129 estimate: INR 9,00,00,000-12,00,00,000 / US$ 1.3-1.6 million).

Born and raised in a business family in Calcutta, Abhishek was familiarised with the basic notion of collecting and living with art at a young age. While studying at The Doon School, the legendary boarding school for boys in the Himalayan foothills of Dehradun, he established the school’s first art magazine. Akshat underlined Poddar’s early grasp of the various genres and geographies of the art world. After the magazine was launched, Abhishek made it a point to meet and thank all of the artists who contributed to the magazine, setting in motion several personal relationships, and further introductions that influenced the course of his collecting. Today, besides running the family business, Abhishek runs Tasveer, a gallery dedicated to photography. Radhika owns and manages the lifestyle store, Cinnamon.

The Poddar collection was formed in the 1980s and 1990s, before the market for modern

Bhupen Khakhar (1934 – 2003) `Interior of a temple’. Estimate INR 10,000,000 – 15,000,000 ($147,553 – 221,330) Pics source:

and contemporary art in India took off. According to Christie’s Singh, it represents the best works of a wide range of Indian artists, showcasing the ways in which their styles and idioms developed over time. Rare early works by Arpita Singh, Bhupen Khakhar, Meera Mukherjee and Ganesh Pyne help understand the evolution of these artist’s bodies of work. The collection is thus important for connoisseurs, collectors and art historians, offering a glimpse into a vital period of modern Indian art that is yet to be completely documented.

So if you can still make it for the Mumbai preview on December 16 – 17 at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, it would be worth it.

A classic auction


Vasudeo S. Gaitonde Untitled. Estimate $1, 800, 000 – $ 2, 200,000. Painted in 1970. Source:

Christie’s upcoming South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art auction in New York this week will be part of Asian Art Week in New York. It’s quite a classic sale. The auction presents paintings by leading modern Indian masters, such as Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Syed Haider Raza, Francis Newton Souza, Maqbool Fida Husain and Jehangir Sabavala, alongside significant contemporary works by Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, Shilpa Gupta and Sheba Chhachhi. Also included are important works by South Asian modernists George Keyt, Abdur Rahman Chughtai, Rashid Choudhury and Sheikh Mohammed Sultan. The sale offers an overview of the past 100 years of Indian art making.

The catalogue is a nice collection of contemporary works. One of the noteworthy works is a 1970 work by Gaitonde Untitled. Featured on the cover of the catalogue, the work was painted when Gaitonde was recognised as being at the peak of his artistic powers. The painting, which displays a kind of non-objective chiaroscuro, is a meditative masterpiece and represents a cornerstone in Gaitonde’s oeuvre (estimate: $1,800,000-2,200,000). The consignor of the work, Dara Mehta, acquired the work at a public auction of antiques and collectibles from the estate of philanthropist Dr Jamshed Jehangir Bhabha, last April. It would be interesting to see what the Gaitonde goes for considering his 1975 canvas, Untitled  sold for a record $4,384,777, a world auction record not only for the artist, but for any modern Indian work of art at the South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art auction in May this year.

Other interesting works are that of Raza’s L’Orage and Zamine. L’Orage perfectly presents Raza’s longing for the Indian landscape so acutely felt and articulated in the 1970s. It is Raza’s exaltation of and homage to India, a place he revisited through every brushstroke, capturing the essence and colors of the country during his years away.

From the contemporary Indian artists, there are notable works by Shilpa Gupta, Bharti Kher and Hema Upadhyay. Then there is the Pakistani-American artist, Seher Shah’s first work, titled Jihad Pop ($8,000 – 12,000).

The entire proceeds from the sale of Lots 695 – 700D will be going towards The Germination Project. The Germination Project is a non-profit catalytic incubator under the aegis of the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundaton in Philadelphia, USA. One of the initiatives of the Germination Project is IntXchange, a transnational art advocacy network, dedicated to forming a new art and culture exchange between the East and the West.

A serial entrepreneur


(L) Kanupriya Verma, COO and Ananya Birla, CEO & founder (R)

Ananya Birla, Kumar Mangalam and Neerja Birla’s eldest daughter,  launched her second venture, CuroCarte on September 11. Completely different from her first venture, Svatantra Microfinance, a micro-finance company she started in 2013, CuroCarte will provide rare, handmade, high quality, home accents and accessories, sourced from nine countries.

Kanupriya Verma an IIM (Indore) alumni, and also a team member from the Svatantra team, has been brought in as COO at CuroCrate. An initial investment of Rs6 crore has been made. Essentially an unorganized market, Birla is trying to bring some method to the creativity with the help of technology. The charm of CuroCarte lies in the fact that the company will work directly with the makers, or artisans of the products, from all around the world. The idea is to provide consumers with utility as well as decorative products for the home. The brand will be presenting 1,500 products across 70 categories. “Through the brand, we aim to revolutionize the e-commerce space by bringing inaccessible, aesthetically appealing products from all around the world to the people in India and also to a global audience,” says Ananya Birla, founder and CEO, CuroCarte.

Priced at between Rs7,000 – Rs10,000 per item, the site will sell products from India, as well as from Thailand, Spain, Portugal, France, Morocco and Vietnam. According to Birla, a lot of focus will be given to digital marketing. Plans are to launch an app soon. “We don’t have any competition. We are very different from what’s out there,” says Birla.

Her first venture, Svatantra Microfinance, is estimated to have a portfolio of $20 million and 80,000 borrowers in three years since its inception. According to Birla, though CuroCarte is a completely different line of business, some things remain the same. “I have realised that your team, a high EQ, a sound business model and revenue model is what matters,” she says.With her second venture in place, Birla is making herself out to be a serial entrepreneur.

Sony gets 10

What was to happen among the sports TV channels has finally happened. Zee TV sold its bouquet of sports channels under the TEN Sports umbrella to Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) for $385 million. According to industry watchers, this was a move in the pipeline for a while.

Overall, it works out well for all. For Sony, “it brings a strong portfolio of rights in cricket, football and fight sports. We can now grow our footprint in India,” say N.P.Singh, CEO, SPNI. The TEN Sports channels operate in, besides the Indian sub-continent, Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong, Middle East, Caribbean. TEN Sports holds broadcast rights to major cricket boards (South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe). In addition, Ten Sports also holds rights to wrestling (WWE), football (UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, French League, English Football League Cup), tennis (WTA Events, ATP events), golf (European Tour, Asian Tour, Ryder Cup, US PGA Championship, LPGA Tour, Professional Golf Tour of India and Golf Channel Block), athletics (Asian Games, Commonwealth Games), motor sports (Moto GP) and cycling (Tour de France) events.

For Zee, this was part of an ongoing strategic shuffle at the group, leaving it to concentrate on its general entertainment channels. “ While we have grown our sports business over the last 10 years through acquisition of content at competitive prices, our focus now is on transforming ourselves into an all-round media and content company, comprising of five verticals, viz. broadcast, digital, films, live events, and international business; and we continue to move rapidly towards our set business goals. While I have always been proud of our sports business, I strongly believe that Sony will add more value to it by taking it to even greater heights. I wish them all the success,” says Punit Goenka, Managing Director, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEE).

The revolution continues…

Riyaaz4Riyaaz Amlani is on a roll. Ever since he launched Social, the collaborative workspace concept in 2014, he has had no time for a breather. He has been launching one new Social every few months. Recently, he launched the fifth Social – Capital Social – in Mumbai, at the Bandra Kurla Complex, and the 10th in India. Designed as part bunker – part refuge, this launch speaks of the success of the format and the ideology – the bottomless appetite for the second space that mixes business with pleasure. “It’s an idea that has found resonance with people,” says Riyaaz Amlani, founder & CEO, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.

The next three years will be all about Social. As for the other brands under the Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality umbrella, – Mocha, the coffee house the company started with in 2001 is now in 20 tier 2 cities. Smokehouse Deli, the fine dine restaurant is expanding, but slowly. There should be 15 of them nationwide by 2017. Then there is Saltwater Grill, Salt Water Café, The Tasting Room, and Stone Water Grill and Le Kebabiere in Pune.

With an aim to be in the top three restaurant chains in the country, Amlani has no plans of slowing down.

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