Marico Ltd's Chairman and Managing Director Harsh Mariwala’s personal initiative to groom growth-ready entrepreneurs, ASCENT, is now ready for the next level of expansion, having completed what it calls its ‘first wave’. The initiative, a peer-to-peer enabling platform where entrepreneurs can learn from each other and share experiences while scaling up their ventures is a part of Mariwala’s personal social responsibility effort.
Nine months after ASCENT was launched, it now has over 200 members, with a combined turnover level of Rs 8,800 crore, across diverse industry segments.
Mariwala told Firstpost that he was pleased with the response in the first phase, and the target now was to launch into the next waves and reach 1,000 entrepreneurs across 100 ‘trust groups’ of business owners.
ASCENT's final objective is to reach 10,000 entrepreneurs with 1000 trust groups. “The initiative is progressing very well and a number of entrepreneurs across age groups have signed up with us,” he said.
According to latest figures, over 400 applications had been received and over 200 entrepreneurs selected, forming 20 trust groups. The entrepreneurs have been drawn from over 60 diverse industries. Interestingly, about 33 percent of those enrolled are family businesses, while 10 percent are women entrepreneurs.
The revenue spectrum of ASCENT spans ventures from turnover of Rs 50 lakh to as much as Rs 1,450 crore, Mariwala pointed out. As much as 60 percent of the membership is from services industries, with the remainder coming from the manufacturing sector.
Calling itself the “Billion Dollar ++ Circle of Trust”, Mariwala’s ASCENT has been set up as a kind of an ‘accelerator for the started’, leading them to the growth stage.
The model is of getting in self-sustaining, facilitated trust groups of 8-12 non-competing diverse entrepreneurs at similar stage and scale, with perimeter access to an ecosystem of knowledge gurus, inspirational role models and enablers from whom they can learn.
The ASCENT eligibility criteria is Rs 50 lakh and above for the services sector and Rs 2.5 crore and above for manufacturing sector applicants. Other criteria include a visible ambition for growth, a profitable business with growth potential and a willingness to learn and share, since the model is entirely based on sharing and peer-to-peer learning and exchange of ideas.
ASCENT is a not-for-profit section 25 company which does not charge membership fees and is funded by Mariwala personally.