Top 10 Social Impact Startups in India

India, with its vast population and diverse socio-economic challenges, has become a fertile ground for social impact startups that aim to address critical issues such as poverty, education, healthcare, and sustainability. These startups are not only focused on generating profits but also on creating significant positive change in society. By leveraging innovative technologies, community-based approaches, and sustainable business models, they strive to solve problems that have long hindered India’s progress.

This report highlights the top 10 social impact startups in India, each making remarkable contributions to various sectors. These organizations have been selected based on their unique approaches, impact, scalability, and recognition in the field. They range from renewable energy providers and educational foundations to crowdfunding platforms and agricultural innovators, showcasing the breadth of social entrepreneurship in India.

These startups exemplify how business acumen combined with a strong social mission can lead to transformative changes, improving the lives of millions across the country. By addressing fundamental issues at the grassroots level, they are paving the way for a more equitable and sustainable future. The following profiles provide insights into their missions, operations, and achievements, demonstrating the power of social innovation in driving progress.

1. SELCO India

SELCO India, founded in 1995 by Harish Hande, is a social enterprise focused on improving the quality of life for underserved communities through sustainable energy solutions. The company provides solar lighting and other renewable energy products to rural households and businesses. SELCO’s mission is to eradicate poverty by creating a holistic ecosystem that supports sustainable energy access. They combine technology with financing and community-based initiatives to ensure long-term impact. SELCO has also established innovation labs to develop and test new solutions tailored to the needs of low-income populations. Their work has empowered thousands of households with reliable and affordable energy, contributing to improved health, education, and economic opportunities.

FounderHarish Hande
HeadquartersBangalore, Karnataka
IndustryRenewable Energy
ProductsSolar lighting, solar water pumps, solar home systems
Target MarketRural households, small businesses, and underserved communities
ImpactImproved energy access for over 500,000 households
Unique ApproachIntegration of technology, financing, and community initiatives
AwardsAshden Award for Sustainable Energy, Ramon Magsaysay Award

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2. Goonj

Goonj, founded by Anshu Gupta in 1999, is a non-governmental organization that addresses basic needs and provides dignified living for underprivileged communities through innovative reuse of urban waste. Goonj focuses on clothing, menstrual hygiene, and disaster relief, transforming discarded materials into useful resources for rural communities. Their initiatives include the ‘Cloth for Work’ program, where urban waste is used to drive rural development projects. Goonj emphasizes dignity, empowerment, and sustainable development, impacting millions of lives across India. Their work has earned numerous accolades, highlighting their innovative approach to social change.

FounderAnshu Gupta
HeadquartersNew Delhi, India
IndustryNon-Governmental Organization
ProductsClothing, sanitary pads, disaster relief materials
Target MarketRural and underprivileged communities
ImpactEmpowered millions through material reuse and development projects
Unique ApproachUsing urban waste for rural development
AwardsRamon Magsaysay Award, Social Entrepreneur of the Year (India)

Also Read : Top 10 Renewable Energy Startups in India

3. Agastya International Foundation

Agastya International Foundation, established in 1999 by Ramji Raghavan, is an educational organization aiming to spark curiosity and creativity in rural children and teachers through hands-on science education. Agastya operates mobile science labs, science centers, and teacher training programs to deliver interactive learning experiences. Their approach encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, reaching millions of students and teachers across India. Agastya’s programs have shown significant improvements in student engagement and academic performance, contributing to the overall development of rural education.

FounderRamji Raghavan
HeadquartersBangalore, Karnataka
ProductsMobile science labs, science centers, teacher training programs
Target MarketRural students and teachers
ImpactReached millions of students and teachers, improving educational outcomes
Unique ApproachHands-on, interactive science education
AwardsGoogle Global Impact Award, Tech Museum Award

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4. Frontier Markets

Frontier Markets, founded by Ajaita Shah in 2011, is a social enterprise that provides access to affordable and quality consumer goods and services in rural India through a network of local women entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs, known as “Saral Jeevan Sahelis,” sell products such as solar lanterns, clean cooking stoves, and health-related items. Frontier Markets empowers women by providing them with training, income opportunities, and a platform to address the needs of their communities. The company’s unique model combines social impact with a sustainable business approach, improving the quality of life for rural households.

FounderAjaita Shah
HeadquartersJaipur, Rajasthan
IndustryConsumer Goods, Social Enterprise
ProductsSolar lanterns, clean cooking stoves, health products
Target MarketRural households
ImpactImproved access to quality goods for over 600,000 households
Unique ApproachEmpowering women entrepreneurs
AwardsUN Women’s Empower Women Challenge Award

Also Read : Top 10 Waste Management Startups in India

5. Rang De

Rang De, co-founded by Smita Ram and Ramakrishna NK in 2008, is a peer-to-peer lending platform that aims to alleviate poverty by providing low-cost loans to underserved communities in India. The platform connects urban lenders with rural borrowers, funding needs such as education, small business ventures, and agricultural activities. Rang De’s innovative model ensures transparency and accountability, allowing lenders to track the impact of their contributions. The organization has facilitated thousands of loans, empowering individuals to improve their livelihoods and achieve financial independence.

FoundersSmita Ram, Ramakrishna NK
HeadquartersBangalore, Karnataka
IndustryFinancial Services, Social Enterprise
ProductsLow-cost loans for education, small business, agriculture
Target MarketUnderserved rural communities
ImpactFacilitated thousands of loans, improved livelihoods
Unique ApproachPeer-to-peer lending platform
AwardsNASSCOM Social Innovation Award

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6. Pollinate Group

Pollinate Group, co-founded by Alexie Seller, Mark Rocca, and Ashish Goyal in 2012, is a social enterprise that empowers women entrepreneurs to distribute affordable, clean energy solutions to underserved communities in India and Nepal. Their product range includes solar lights, clean cookstoves, and sanitary products. Pollinate Group focuses on training and supporting local women, known as “Pollinators,” to create sustainable livelihoods while addressing critical needs such as energy access and health. The organization has reached thousands of households, improving living standards and fostering economic empowerment.

Co-FoundersAlexie Seller, Mark Rocca, Ashish Goyal
HeadquartersBangalore, Karnataka
IndustryClean Energy, Social Enterprise
ProductsSolar lights, clean cookstoves, sanitary products
Target MarketUnderserved communities in India and Nepal
ImpactImproved energy access and health for thousands of households
Unique ApproachEmpowering women entrepreneurs
AwardsUN Momentum for Change Award

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7. LabourNet

LabourNet, founded by Gayathri Vasudevan in 2006, is a social enterprise that aims to improve the livelihoods of informal sector workers through skills training, employment opportunities, and social protection services. LabourNet offers training in various trades such as construction, beauty, and healthcare, equipping workers with the skills needed to secure better jobs and higher wages. The organization also facilitates access to financial services and social benefits. LabourNet’s holistic approach has empowered thousands of workers, enhancing their economic stability and social security.

FounderGayathri Vasudevan
HeadquartersBangalore, Karnataka
IndustryWorkforce Development, Social Enterprise
ProductsSkills training, employment services, social protection
Target MarketInformal sector workers
ImpactTrained and empowered thousands of workers
Unique ApproachHolistic workforce development
AwardsSankalp Social Enterprise Award

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8. Milaap

Milaap, founded by Sourabh

Sharma, Mayukh Choudhury, and Anoj Viswanathan in 2010, is India’s largest crowdfunding platform for personal and social causes. Milaap enables individuals and organizations to raise funds for medical emergencies, education, community projects, and disaster relief. The platform has simplified the process of giving, making it accessible to people from all walks of life. Milaap’s transparent and user-friendly approach has facilitated thousands of campaigns, raising millions of dollars for critical needs and transforming lives across India.

FoundersSourabh Sharma, Mayukh Choudhury, Anoj Viswanathan
HeadquartersBangalore, Karnataka
IndustryCrowdfunding, Social Enterprise
ProductsCrowdfunding platform for medical, educational, and social causes
Target MarketIndividuals and organizations in need of funds
ImpactRaised millions for thousands of campaigns
Unique ApproachTransparent and user-friendly crowdfunding
AwardsSankalp Social Enterprise Award

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9. Educate Girls

Educate Girls, founded by Safeena Husain in 2007, is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the enrollment, retention, and academic performance of girls in rural India. The organization collaborates with the government, community volunteers, and local schools to identify and enroll out-of-school girls. Educate Girls also implements remedial learning programs to enhance educational outcomes. By addressing cultural and socio-economic barriers, the organization aims to ensure that every girl has access to quality education. Their efforts have significantly increased the number of girls attending and thriving in schools.

FounderSafeena Husain
HeadquartersMumbai, Maharashtra
IndustryEducation, Non-Profit
ProductsEnrollment drives, remedial learning programs
Target MarketRural girls
ImpactImproved enrollment and academic performance for thousands of girls
Unique ApproachCommunity-based interventions
AwardsSkoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship

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10. Digital Green

Digital Green, founded by Rikin Gandhi in 2008, is a global development organization that uses technology and community engagement to improve agricultural practices and livelihoods in rural areas. Digital Green partners with local governments and organizations to produce and disseminate educational videos featuring local farmers demonstrating best practices. These videos are shown in group settings to facilitate knowledge sharing and adoption of new techniques. Digital Green’s innovative approach has enhanced agricultural productivity, income, and food security for millions of farmers.

FounderRikin Gandhi
HeadquartersNew Delhi, India
IndustryAgriculture, Technology, Social Enterprise
ProductsEducational videos, community engagement programs
Target MarketRural farmers
ImpactImproved agricultural practices and livelihoods for millions of farmers
Unique ApproachTechnology-enabled community engagement
AwardsSkoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow

Also Read : Top 10 Remote Work Startups in India

FAQs on Social Impact Startups in India

1. What are social impact startups?

Social impact startups are businesses that prioritize addressing social or environmental challenges alongside generating profits. Their primary goal is to create positive and measurable impact on society or the environment through innovative solutions.

2. Why are social impact startups important in India?

Social impact startups play a crucial role in India due to the country’s diverse socio-economic challenges. They address issues such as poverty, healthcare access, education, and environmental sustainability, which are critical for the country’s development and inclusive growth.

3. How do social impact startups measure their impact?

Social impact startups measure their impact through various metrics such as the number of beneficiaries reached, improvements in quality of life indicators (e.g., income levels, health outcomes), environmental sustainability metrics, and the scalability of their solutions.

4. What sectors do social impact startups in India focus on?

Social impact startups in India focus on a wide range of sectors including:

  • Renewable energy
  • Education and skill development
  • Healthcare and sanitation
  • Agriculture and rural development
  • Financial inclusion
  • Women empowerment
  • Environmental conservation

5. How do social impact startups sustain themselves financially?

Social impact startups sustain themselves financially through various models including:

  • Earned revenue from products or services sold to customers (e.g., solar products, healthcare services)
  • Grants and donations from foundations, governments, and impact investors
  • Partnerships with corporates or NGOs
  • Crowdfunding campaigns
  • Impact investment from socially-minded investors

6. What are some challenges faced by social impact startups in India?

Challenges faced by social impact startups in India include:

  • Limited access to funding and investment
  • Scalability while maintaining impact and sustainability
  • Navigating regulatory frameworks and bureaucratic hurdles
  • Building trust and credibility among stakeholders
  • Adapting innovations to local contexts and cultural sensitivities

7. How can individuals support social impact startups in India?

Individuals can support social impact startups in India by:

  • Becoming customers and purchasing their products or services
  • Spreading awareness about their mission and impact
  • Volunteering skills or time
  • Investing in their initiatives through crowdfunding or impact investing platforms
  • Advocating for supportive policies and regulations

8. What are examples of successful social impact startups in India?

Some successful social impact startups in India include:

  • SELCO India (Renewable energy solutions)
  • Goonj (Urban waste upcycling for rural development)
  • Agastya International Foundation (Hands-on science education for rural children)
  • Rang De (Peer-to-peer lending for financial inclusion)
  • Digital Green (Technology-enabled agriculture extension services)

9. How can social impact startups scale their impact in India?

Social impact startups can scale their impact in India by:

  • Developing scalable business models that can be replicated across different regions
  • Partnering with governments, NGOs, and corporates for wider reach and resources
  • Leveraging technology for efficient operations and outreach
  • Investing in capacity building and talent development
  • Measuring and communicating impact effectively to attract funding and support

10. What is the future outlook for social impact startups in India?

The future outlook for social impact startups in India is promising, with increasing awareness and support for social entrepreneurship. As more startups innovate and scale their solutions, they are expected to play a significant role in addressing India’s development challenges and driving inclusive growth across the country.


Social impact startups in India represent a powerful force driving positive change across diverse sectors, from renewable energy and education to healthcare and agriculture. These startups combine entrepreneurial spirit with a deep commitment to addressing some of India’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Through innovative solutions, they not only generate economic value but also create significant and measurable impact on society.

The profiles of these top 10 social impact startups highlight their dedication to improving the lives of millions of people, particularly in underserved communities. Whether it’s providing clean energy solutions, empowering women entrepreneurs, enhancing educational opportunities, or promoting sustainable agriculture, each startup demonstrates a unique approach to creating lasting change.

As India continues to evolve economically and socially, the role of social impact startups becomes increasingly crucial. They serve as catalysts for inclusive growth, leveraging technology, community engagement, and sustainable business models to drive innovation and address systemic issues. By fostering collaboration among stakeholders and adopting scalable solutions, these startups are paving the way for a more equitable and sustainable future.

Looking ahead, the continued success and impact of social impact startups in India will depend on their ability to navigate challenges, attract investment, and scale their initiatives effectively. With ongoing support from stakeholders including governments, investors, and civil society, these startups have the potential to transform the landscape of social entrepreneurship and contribute significantly to India’s development journey.

In conclusion, the stories of these startups inspire hope and showcase the transformative power of combining business acumen with social responsibility. They exemplify how entrepreneurial innovation can create meaningful change, illustrating a path towards a more inclusive and prosperous India.

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