Harnessing Markets For Change
Innovation ecosystems are the dynamic mixtures of individuals and organizations along with social, political, informational, technological, and financial contexts that spark creative responses to pressing social challenges. They are among the loosest of all social collaborations and often the aggregate outcomes are unintended, undesigned, and not consciously pursued by the actors in them. The institutional design challenges can be formidable: how can financial, informational, or other investments tip the aggregate activities of the ecosystem toward creating social innovation? Okapi's work in this area includes both research and strategy advisory services for international and Indian organizations seeking to contribute to innovation ecosystems. Okapi experts have also worked with academic institutions in India and abroad to help them build interdisciplinary research programs as well programmes for linking academic and practitioner perspectives.

Jessica Seddon

Founder & Managing Director

Lina Sonne

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Auralice Graft

Expert in sustainable waste management at community and urban scales

Jayshree Venkatesan

Believes in the power of finance

Anar Bhatt

Senior Research Associate

Anjali Neelakantan

Senior Research Associate

Sangeetha Nair

Research and Operations Associate

Geetanjali Shahi

Senior Research Associate
Clean Cooking Innovation

Client - World Bank Group

Okapi is working with The World Bank, Tata Trusts, and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to design a hybrid inducement prize and incubator to promote the development of a low-emission user-friendly, rapidly deployable, biomass stove. While there are are many options for cooking, biomass remains an important fuel source across much of India and there is substantial room to use it in a cleaner, more efficient way.

Social Enterprise Ecosystem Assessment: South Asia

Client - British Council

Working with Social Life, a UK based social enterprise consultancy to assess the stake stock of the ecosystems across four South Asian countries and identify opportunities for knowledge exchange between the UK and South Asia’s to inform the development of the social economy in both regions.

Local Social Enterprise Ecosystems

Client - Unconvention|Local @ Villgro, Citi Foundation

Working with the Unconvention-Local team at Villgro Innovations Foundation to map social enterprise ecosystems in and around nine of India's smaller cities in order to identify critical investments to encourage new social entrepreneurs to enter and enable existing social entrepreneurs to thrive in these areas.

Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition

Client - Institute of Development Studies, UK & MS Swaminathan Foundation, India

The overall purpose of this study is to enable politically and scientifically informed debates for a new Food, Agriculture and Nutrition innovation policy framework in India. The project is supported under the new international research partnership on "Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia" (LANSA)

Moving Around: Strategies for Minimizing Livelihoods Shocks After Resettlement

Client - International Growth Centre - IGC

This project will explore policy and implementation strategies for reducing the livelihoods disruptions associated with resettlement. It will use a combination of surveys and focus group discussions to a) understand employment and entrepreneurship trajectories among households moved from central Chennai to resettlement sites on the periphery of the metropolitan areas; b) identify the specific challenges and potential opportunities that geographic relocation create; and c) develop a better understanding of the actual and potential effectiveness of strategies to minimize the disruption to livelihoods that relocation is generally associated with.

Clean Cooking: Private Sector Capacity

Client - The World Bank

The project analyses the actual and latent private sector capacity to contribute to a widespread shift in cooking practices in India.

SAARC Regional Assessment: Social Entrepreneurship in Health, Energy, Agriculture

Client - The World Bank

Study maps and analyzes the ecosystem and emerging opportunities for social impact through entrepreneurship in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Local Economic Development in South Asia

Client - Commonwealth Forum of Local Governments

Report reviews the national context, policies and practical experiences of local governments’ role in local economic development activities across Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Social Enterprise Futures: Low-Cost Healthcare

Client - Villgro & International Development Research Ctr

Futures research project carried out with the Villgro Innovations Foundation, the IIT Madras Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre, and Dhoopa Ventures. The report looks a emerging opportunities for social entrepreneurs to contribute to the quality, variety, and reach of health and wellness services for low-income Indian households.

Social Impact Learning

Client - Villgro Innovations Foundation

Working with the Villgro Innovations Foundation to develop a research and operational strategy for the incubator and portfolio companies to test and refine their social impact strategies as well as track their effectiveness over time


Client - Villgro Innovations Foundation

Working with Villgro Innovations Foundation and Uniphore Software Systems Pvt Ltd to develop a customizable platform for social enterprises to design automated voice-based interactions with their customers and other beneficiaries.

Building the Jobs Ecosystem in Renewable Energy

Client - World Resources Institute

The promise of renewable energy (RE) in reducing poverty and promoting new employment opportunities is often spoken of as one of the many benefits of renewable energy, alongside improving energy security, enhancing energy access, and mitigating climate change, among others, especially for countries such as India. A collaboration between Okapi Research & Advisory and World Resources Institute, the RE Growth: Broadening Poverty Reduction Impacts in India Report seeks to understand opportunities for poverty reduction through employment generation along the RE supply chain. Based on an analysis of various RE-based programs and policies developed in India and a set of interviews with policy makers, program developers, training institutes, RE sector employers and employees, the Report defines and assesses the ecosystem around RE, evaluates the extent to which it supports the generation of “good jobs” in low-income areas and for low-income people and identifies ways to accelerate good job generation that results in sustainable poverty reduction. The Report aims to build an evidence base that will contribute to designing the larger ecosystem around RE programs and initiatives to accelerate poverty impacts through its supply chain.

SME Clean Energy Innovation Ecosystem Mapping Study in India: Understanding Financial and Technical Barriers, the Role of Ecosystem Actors and How to Strengthen the Ecosystem

Client - WWF-India

Clean energy innovation will play an important role in enabling India to secure much-needed energy access, economic growth and development while avoiding increasing air and climate-affecting emissions. This innovation must also be inclusive, in the sense not only of its fruits being made available to a wide range of individuals, households, and businesses; but also in the sense of it being shaped by and benefiting a wide range of suppliers including domestic small and medium enterprises. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a major resource to marshal toward technology and business model innovation that enables wider availability of clean energy. A collaboration between WWF-India and Okapi, this Study seeks to Identify challenges and opportunities in the clean energy innovation ecosystem particularly for SMEs in order to better understand the key elements of the innovation ecosystem around SMEs addressing clean energy in India and the broader dynamics of this ecosystem. The ecosystem mapping analysis aspect of this Study will help policy makers, the finance community (government and private), and innovators better understand the key challenges faced by the SME sector, who the key actors are regionally and nationally, and how they can connect with and support innovators.

Beyond Off Grid: Integrating Mini Grids with India's Evolving Electricity System

Client - Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Asha Impact and The Rockefeller Foundation

India has ambitious targets for providing electrification to all its villages by May 2018 and 24x7 power to all households by March 2019. Part of this goal will be achieved by expansion of the national grid, as well as the amount of power that flows through it. But it will also require an expansion of off-grid electricity provided by private energy service companies (ESCOs). These companies, often small and medium enterprises operating in rural areas with unreliable or no grid electricity, provide a range of services from generation and distribution to user services and maintenance through mini-grids, often based on renewable energy (solar or biomass). This report addresses the policy, regulatory, and market infrastructure needed for these two sets of electricity providers- ESCOs and the national grid – to co-exist and collaborate to accelerate energy access