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SOCAP11 Social Entrepreneur Spotlight: Gaurav Manchanda, One Degree Solar (Liberia)

SOCAP September 2, 2011

Why are you participating in SOCAP?
I started One Degree Solar in 2009 after two years working for the Clinton Foundation and Ministry of Health in post-conflict Liberia. While I was fortunate to work with major donors within the traditional aid community in Liberia, I didn’t have as much exposure to social entrepreneurs or tech innovators that were leading incredible ventures in East Africa and India. In order to make the shift from my nonprofit health background towards one that utilizes business and tech to foster development, I joined several startup programs and incubators, including the Unreasonable Institute and the Wharton Venture Initiation Program.
Both of these programs have been invaluable for us as they’ve provided access to world-class mentors, investors, and thought leaders with a wide variety of perspectives. These interactions have been eye-opening, reaffirming, and also very timely as One Degree Solar has built some great momentum over the past several months, with new investors, advisers, team members, and partners in the US and Africa.
We’re still in the early stages of growth and believe we can achieve greater impact more quickly if we combine forces with strong partners. For us, SOCAP is an unbeatable opportunity to learn from the best minds in the field, hear the latest on BOP-focused mobile platforms and renewable energy initiatives, and ideally lay the groundwork for future partnerships.
I applied for a SOCAP Scholarship after meeting its management team at the Unreasonable Institute and spending time at The Hub (SF) this summer. The conversations and “productive collisions” that took place were inspiring and thought-provoking, and many have already led to talks with organizations that could dramatically improve the services we provide and the lives of millions around the globe. I look forward to attending SOCAP, listening with open ears, envisioning collaborations, and seeing what develops with 1,500+ people that each represent a world of opportunity.

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