US NRI plans social entrepreneurship centre in Hubli

Gururaj 'Desh' Deshpande a successful NRI in the US is preparing the ground for future entrepreneurs that he plans to create though his pet initiative, Hubli Sandbox. Deshpande has been working on his project for almost 8 years and now is fast-tracking the plan by expanding capacity. The Deshpande Foundation that runs the Sandbox programme is building its own campus on some 14 acres for the purpose of training 5000 students a year on social entrepreneurship. A serial NRI tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Deshpande mooted the idea in 1996 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he first set up an innovation centre and named it Sandbox. In 2006 he turned to Hubli his birthplace, to experiment with the idea. Now, Action for India, a social enterprise has forged a partnership to replicate Hubli Sandbox across the country. Deshpande who is co-chairman of President Barack Obama's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship says the Indian government's focus on skill development is fine, but people also need to be taught to innovate. The Hubli Sandbox program focuses on skill development, including offering domain-specific skills and software skill development. It is also working with some 50 not-for-profit organisations on scaling it up with a successful financial model. In the US the Deshpande Foundation now focuses on developing entrepreneurship and has identified some 250 economically deprived places where it is running a programme called "Entrepreneurship for All".