Social Start-Up Fellowship Programme 2020

Launchpad for budding social entrepreneurs who wish to create positive change in India

You’ve got an idea for a project that helps other people or the environment. How do you get it up and running? That’s where we come in. 

The School for Social Entrepreneurs India provides you with 9 months of essential support as you start up a social enterprise, charity, or business to solve a social or environmental problem in your community.

About the Social Start-Up Programme

“9 months with SSE will push your idea to reality.”

We know how social entrepreneurs learn best. This programme focuses on you, the social entrepreneur, and supports you on a process of self-discovery & growth–enabling you to launch and effectively run a social start-up

Our learning programme favours action over theory: it’s dynamic, interactive & inspirational–just what a social entrepreneur like you needs to start and lead a social enterprise. You come along for experiential and practical learning – no textbooks in sight! We’ll take you through all the key steps as you turn your idea into a real organisation. 

This programme is delivered through in-person ‘learning blocks’ that run for 3-4 days every month, between April to December 2020. The learning blocks are residential, and take place in Delhi NCR.

You’ll learn how to become a confident leader and make an impact. We’ll help you develop the capabilities you’ll need to be effective, like:

  • developing a social entrepreneurial mindset 
  • business skills (designing a business model; managing finances)
  • measuring and communicating your social impact
  • testing and selling your products and services
  • learning from failure and building resilience.

On the Social Start-Up Fellowship Programme, you’ll become part of an incredible community of aspiring changemakers like you, with diverse projects in different sectors and states across the country.

Welcome to the journey of a lifetime!

Social entrepreneurs & enterprises supported by SSE India

“SSE is able to create incredible communities & nurture ideas into powerful enterprises.”

Till date, over 80 social entrepreneurs have participated in our learning programmes and launched social start-ups across the country in a diverse array of sectors. 

SSE India fellows are creating social change in almost 20 states, including: Andhra Pradesh; Assam; Bihar; Chandigarh; Chhattisgarh; Delhi NCR; Goa; Gujarat; Karnataka; Madhya Pradesh; Maharashtra; Odisha; Punjab; Rajasthan; Sikkim; Tamilnadu; Telengana; Uttar Pradesh; and Uttarakhand. 

We have provided initial support in the early stages of their social enterprises, which span sectors including: Health & Wellbeing; Livelihood Generation; Environment Conservation & Protection; Education & Skill Development; Responsible Production & Consumption; Food, Nutrition & Agriculture; Technology & Media; and Community & Youth Development.

We support local & national social enterprises and charities, as well as those with an international reach.

Meet the 2019 cohort

To find out more about us, and the social entrepreneurs & enterprises we have worked with from our inception in 2016 till 2018, please view/download SSE India’s 3-year Commemorative Book. 

When you become an SSE India Fellowship participant, you immediately join this strong network of social changemakers. Better yet, simply by downloading our application form gives you access to members of this fraternity through different touchpoints of the application process. Please see the section below on Interested in applying to the Social Start-Up Programme?

Who should join the Social Start-Up Fellowship Programme?

“SSE threads together a wonderful combination of all kinds of start-ups, from those at idea stage to early expansion; from nonprofit to hybrid models–and this provides the best peer learning. SSE gives you family that will be with you throughout this lonely journey as a social entrepreneur.”

This learning programme is for entrepreneurial people with an idea that will make a positive difference in their community and beyond. You will need to be able to explain the positive social/environmental impact that your work will create for others, and have the drive and commitment necessary to get your social project off the ground.

We don’t assess qualifications in deciding who joins our programme, but rather, we look for the qualities and competencies that make a good social entrepreneur. We bring together passionate individuals with first-hand experience or deep exposure to a social problem (e.g. lack of access to basic needs; inequality; or injustice) who wish to breathe life into their idea and grow it into a social business. Coupled with this, we look for those who have a compelling vision for social/environmental change; a spirit of service and compassion; and the curiosity, enthusiasm, and willingness to learn and grow

At SSE, you will find the environment, people, and culture to nurture and inspire you into becoming a confident and effective social changemaker.

“The spirit which SSE gave me to strengthen my inner confidence is amazing.”


What are the prerequisites for joining the Programme?

“SSE India’s Fellowship Programme is the only one which has no conditions or restrictions on applicants like age or qualification–but what makes truly makes it stand apart is learning by doing. You will find this approach everywhere on the programme.” 

You don’t need any educational qualifications or business experience for our Fellowship Programme. We embrace diversity and welcome people of all ages*, backgrounds, and locations in India**.

However, we expect you to take an active part in your learning and invest time, energy, and dedication into the programme. We strongly believe that how much you put into this learning programme is a key determinant for how much your enterprise develops over the 9 month period.

This programme could be right for you if:

  • You have identified a social or environmental problem and have an idea about how to tackle it
  • You want to turn your idea into a sustainable business or charity, and have thought about how it could make money
  • You like learning by doing, in a practical way
  • You enjoy getting to know people from different backgrounds
  • You can commit three to four days per month, from April to December 2020

We support local & national social enterprises and charities, as well as those with an international reach.

* Minimum age for applicants is 18 years

** Please note that we are only able to consider applications from Indian nationals and projects must be based in India

What can you hope to experience on the Social Start-Up Fellowship Programme?

“SSE helps us find our way from an idea to action on the ground. For people who want to work on something but are yet to discover ‘how’, this programme is a journey of discovery and innovation.” 

You’ll get approximately 27 days of learning & support, spread out over 9 months. Every day is about hands-on learning from those who’ve been there and done it. We’re definitely not about taking tests or doing homework! We help you gain practical knowledge to transform your idea into a responsible social business.

At SSE India, we focus on you: the person behind the social start-up. We facilitate your growth and development by embracing a philosophy and practice of learning by doing, and our programme is designed in such a way that you are able to consistently grow your social enterprise with the knowledge and skills you acquire through every session. 

We’ll help you develop the values, skills, strengths, and networks you need through the 4 pillars of the learning programme:

  • Expert & Witness (learning) sessions
  • Action Learning Teams
  • Mentoring sessions
  • Project visits

You’ll be part of a group of around 20 people starting up projects like yours. You’ll work through problems and challenges together, and build friendships along the way. We’ll also connect you with a mentor for one-on-one support, and you’ll have the opportunities to create fulfilling connections with practitioners from a range of backgrounds and industries.

This programme is nothing short of a transformative experience. 97% of people who have been on the programme recommend our approach.

“The Social Start-Up Fellowship is a capacity building programme for individuals. SSE India focuses on the complete development of the individual & enterprise. Also, in no time, they become a second family of nothing but support & strength.”



Successful applicants are required to pay no tuition or accommodation costs for this Fellowship Programme. Our partners have invested in you to create and run projects that will have positive social impact on the community and society. However, you will be responsible for your own travel costs to attend the monthly learning blocks in Delhi NCR.


Interested in applying to the Social Start-Up Programme?

We believe that the process should be just as enjoyable as the destination – so the fun starts once you download the application form! 

Through each stage of the application process, you’ll have the chance to network and interact with wonderful people: SSE India fellows, other social entrepreneurs, and diverse practitioners–all with a genuine interest in supporting you and your social enterprise idea. As you progress through the phases, you’ll also gain valuable feedback on your project and approach, and even receive expert advice and recommendations.

How to apply?

Good news – there’s no long-winded application forms or entrance exams!

  1. Simply download the 2-page application form and email your completed submission to
  2. If your application makes it past the first stage of review, you will be invited for a telephone interview
  3. In-person interviews (final stage) will be offered to applicants who make it past the telephone interview. This will be an opportunity to further discuss your enterprise/project and the impact you are hoping to create.

Deadline: Application Process is now closed

Need more info?

We’d love it if you reached out to us with your questions or requests for more information. Please email us at and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.