Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship Partners with Upaya Social Ventures to Support Social Entrepreneurs in India

Blog, Press Release


Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship Partners with Upaya Social Ventures to Support Social Entrepreneurs in India

Growing India’s ecosystem of entrepreneurs addressing poverty through mentorship and access to capital


Bangalore, INDIA – October 25, 2023

Upaya Social Ventures (Upaya) and Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University (“Miller Center”) today announced a new partnership to support the missions of both organizations and the social entrepreneurs they serve.

For over 25 years, Miller Center, located at Santa Clara University in California, has been a leader in the global social enterprise movement, accelerating social entrepreneurs in over 100 countries to end poverty and protect the planet. Through its investment arm, Miller Center Capital, it provides flexibly-structured, early-stage debt to companies in underserved markets. In order to extend its reach and develop deeper connections across the global social entrepreneurship ecosystem, Miller Center partners with local and regional organizations that share in its mission, like Upaya.

Upaya invests in early-stage companies in India that are creating dignified jobs for people in extreme poverty and runs its Dignified Jobs Accelerator to extend its resources and expertise to more social entrepreneurs. Upaya’s impact-first investment model seeks out early-stage companies that are too large for microfinance but not yet ready for traditional investments. The organization has found that these “missing middle” companies are driving the creation of dignified work for those in extreme poverty.

The partnership between Miller Center and Upaya will establish a meaningful value exchange between both organizations to improve the quality and awareness of the resources they each provide to social entrepreneurs. The collaboration kicked off on Saturday with Kate Cochran, CEO of Upaya, participating as a mock investor during Miller Center’s In-Residence program with a cohort of 12 social entrepreneurs operating in traditionally underserved markets.

“We are entering into this partnership to formalize what we have already discovered to be natural commonalities between the entrepreneurs we serve,” said Cochran. “This partnership means that we are moving from co-investing by happenstance to a place where we can be more intentional about mutually supporting social entrepreneurs with investment and capacity building support.”

In addition to their shared mission of empowering entrepreneurs to end poverty, both Miller Center and Upaya have commitments to support social enterprises working in the areas of women’s economic empowerment and climate resilience. Three of the companies in Upaya’s investment portfolio — Lal10, ONganic, and Resham Sutra — are already alumni of Miller Center’s accelerator program.

While both organizations have an interest in supporting early-stage social entrepreneurs, they each bring unique value via their accelerator programs. Miller Center’s globally-recognized accelerator taps into the resources and expertise of Silicon Valley, leveraging mentorship within their network of 350+ experienced mentors. Upaya’s Dignified Jobs Accelerator is customized to support Indian entrepreneurs through theme-based programs that are designed to hone in on the unique challenges of specific sectors and facilitate peer learning and collaboration within each cohort. Through this partnership, Miller Center will encourage their accelerator program alumni who meet Upaya’s investment criteria to apply for the Dignified Jobs Accelerator and vice versa.



Upaya Social Ventures is building a dignified economy by providing investment and support to early-stage businesses creating sustainable livelihoods for people living in extreme poverty. Upaya’s award-winning impact-first model seeks out and supports often-overlooked companies creating work that is safe, stable, inclusive, and rewarding—all of which have a transformative impact on families, communities, and economies. Since its founding in 2011, Upaya’s portfolio companies have created over 30,000 dignified jobs across India.


For over 25 years, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship has been a leader in the global social enterprise movement. With an emphasis on climate resilience and women’s economic power, we accelerate social entrepreneurship to end poverty and protect the planet, guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Located at Santa Clara University, we fuse the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley with the university’s heritage of social justice, community engagement, and global impact. Miller Center has served more than 1,400 social entrepreneurs based in over 100 countries that are impacting hundreds of millions of lives.



Heather Targosz


Rhonda Brauer