Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Zarina and Ronnie Screwvala's Swades Foundation files draft prospectus at the Social Stock Exchange

The issue size of Rs10 crore is the highest by any non-profit so far on the National Stock Exchange's SSE, according to the Foundation

Divya J Shekhar
Published: Jun 20, 2024 12:08:37 PM IST
Updated: Jun 20, 2024 12:24:20 PM IST

Zarina Screwvala (in pink kurta) and Ronnie (in blue T-shirt) at a community meeting in a village near Nashik where they work with the community. Image: Apoorva Salkade For Forbes India Zarina Screwvala (in pink kurta) and Ronnie (in blue T-shirt) at a community meeting in a village near Nashik where they work with the community. Image: Apoorva Salkade For Forbes India

Swades Foundation, founded by Zarina and Ronnie Screwvala, has filed a fundraising draft at the Social Stock Exchange (SSE) to raise Rs10 crore. The philanthropic non-profit that works on rural development and poverty alleviation has claimed that it is the highest issue size so far by an NGO at the National Stock Exchange (NSE)’s SSE segment, and it is expected to list in July.

Screwvala, in an interaction with Forbes India, says the SSE institutionalises giving back, and lends a stamp of credibility to non-profits to raise funds and be accountable for how they are used and the impact they create.

Non-profits listed on the SSE will raise funds through zero coupon zero principal (ZCZP) bonds, which is essentially a donation certificate. It is meant for investors looking to create social impact without seeking financial returns.

The minimum issue size on the SSE, which was Rs1 crore earlier, was reduced to Rs50 lakh by the regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), in 2023, and the minimum application size was cut down from Rs2 lakh earlier to Rs10,000. The ZCZP bonds can be issued only for specific projects and diversification is not supported.

The investors in the SSE can be everyday retail investors, as well as philanthropists who want to make larger donations. Sebi has sent a proposal to the government to amend corporate social responsibility (CSR) rules in the Companies Act, 2013, to include donations made by companies through SSEs, Livemint reported last week.

Currently, companies can donate to the social sector off-market through their CSR initiatives. Forbes India had reported in July 2023 that CSR was being kept out of the SSE ambit as a measure to prevent a possible cannibalisation of existing funding routes to non-profits.

The SSE at the National Stock Exchange, which listed its first non-profits in December 2023, has since seen eight NGOs (excluding Swades) make their listing debut. These NGOs have collectively raised more than Rs11 crore towards education, health care, women empowerment, and environmental sustainability, according to a Fortune reported dated June 14.

Also read: How Zarina and Ronnie Screwvala plan to take the Swades model to new districts

Swades will raise funds via the SSE for projects in three specific areas of sanitation, livelihoods (through livestock rearing and skilling), and education (through scholarships), says Screwvala, who runs edtech venture upGrad and production company RSVP Movies.

Forbes India
had reported in March that the non-profit, which operates in Nashik and Raigad districts in Maharashtra, is exploring various sources of fundraising, including an SSE listing, for their geographical expansion. “The SSE will help us look outside of Maharashtra, which is what we want to do anyway,” says Screwvala.

Swades, earlier known as Society to Heal, Aid, Restore and Educate (SHARE) and in operation since 1983, was renamed in 2013. It works with rural communities towards poverty alleviation, livelihoods and empowerment. In the last decade, it has impacted about three quarters of a million people across various villages in these two districts, the Screwvalas had told Forbes India in March.