Voices from the USAID Finance and Investment Network: Intellecap
Intellecap, an advisory firm based in India and East Africa, supports businesses and entrepreneurs that work with underserved populations across the Global South. Mukund Prasad, Intellecap’s Associate Partner focusing on Livelihoods and Gender, talks about the firm’s work with INVEST, catalytic capital, and the importance of local knowledge and networks for successful development results
By Carolanne Chanik, INVEST Communications Coordinator, and Kristin Jangraw, INVEST Communications Director
Intellecap is no stranger to spotting talented companies. The firm has 20 years of experience identifying and supporting entrepreneurs that work with low-income and excluded communities. “We call ourselves ecosystem builders,” explains Mukund Prasad, Intellecap’s Associate Partner focusing on Livelihoods and Gender. “We tailor our ecosystems to high-potential entrepreneurs so they can grow their capacity and form the strategic partnerships they need to expand into new markets.”
Partnering with Intellecap, INVEST has been supporting USAID’s Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) Grand Challenge for Development, which identifies and scales innovations that impact the nexus of food, water, and energy primarily through the private sector solutions. WE4F has a series of Regional Innovation Accelerators that find new innovators and provide them with both financial and technical assistance. Having a presence in almost all the 16 South and South East Asian countries served by the Regional Innovation Accelerators, Intellecap quickly identified a list of 500 entrepreneurs to apply for WE4F’s support — 100 of which were shortlisted.
“The geographic swath was wide; the language and cultural barriers were immense” explains Prasad. “But what helped us do our job well was our rich network of partners across the region. It makes a difference when a partner or firm has geographic expertise and local experience. There’s a necessary level of understanding. We found promising entrepreneurs; then, we found the intermediaries and capital providers who could support them.”
Although the Intellecap is now a member of USAID’s Finance and Investment Network, the firm was once a recipient of a $1 million USAID grant that enabled it to expand into East Africa, employ local talent, and market its service offerings in a new geography.
“We know what it takes to create impact on the ground because we started in the same place as many of the entrepreneurs that we’re now supporting,” says Prasad. “We know that we need to ensure what entrepreneurs hear from us is consistent with the goals and intentions of USAID, which requires open and frequent communication with the client.”
Check out the video below to hear more from Intellecap’s Mukund Prasad on the importance of private sector engagement and taking context into account when measuring impact.