Jason Prapas discusses investing in social technology ventures at the MIT Tata Center Symposium

I had the pleasure of participating in the MIT Tata Center Symposium last week. This gathering was meant to bring entrepreneurs, researchers, NGOs, and funders together to discuss how together we can bring about positive change in India and beyond. The symposium took place in the extraordinary MIT Media Lab overlooking the Charles River and Boston skyline. I was invited to discuss “Investing in Social Technology Ventures” with the attendees but was also an engaged listener. Many distinguished speakers took part, including Desh Deshpande, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist. I particularly enjoyed his assertion that enterprise solutions are often superior to donation-based approaches for the energy poor. This is based on the feedback loop between solution providers and end consumers. Empowering end users to select solutions for themselves accelerates strong ideas and kicks inferior ones out of the system. Obviously any products and services need to be affordable to allow for access by the base of pyramid, and this can be facilitated through financing mechanisms. Another highlight of the trip included speaking to the student-run Energy for Development (E4Dev) group at MIT about Enterprise-based Solutions to Energy Poverty.