Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc has brought its social innovation initiative, Rakuten Social Accelerator, to India.
First launched in Japan last year, the initiative aims to bring together social entrepreneurs, not-for-profit organisations and Rakuten employees to tackle critical social issues by harnessing technological and business assets.
Rakuten India said in a statement that it has selected three local non-profit organisations -- Robin Hood Army, Wildlife SOS and Samarpana Charitable Trust for The Disabled -- as inaugural partners for 2019.
In partnering with Rakuten under its social initiative, these partners will be able to leverage the company’s global portfolio of online services and brand visibility as well as gaining access to industry talent, the statement added.
Over the next five months, a team of 20 Rakuten employees will volunteer their time and technical expertise to develop comprehensive applications that will aid the selected organisations to expand and scale their operations.
The Rakuten team will work with Robin Hood Army to develop an application with communication tools that will connect donors, beneficiaries and volunteers to avoid wastage and serve food to the needy on time.
Wildlife SOS aims to protect wildlife and conserve habitat by creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods. The organisation will work with the team at Rakuten to scale their operations and connect poacher communities.
The Samarpana Charitable Trust for the Disabled works toward empowering the visually challenged to live independently. The not-for-profit entity and Rakuten’s team will jointly develop a customised application that will connect the differently-abled community and showcase their talent to event organisers across the country.
The Rakuten Social Accelerator, which is expanding its footprint globally, was launched at Rakuten India’s Development and Operations Center (RIDOC) in Bengaluru.
RIDOC was started in 2014, in collaboration with US-based IT consulting firm PROLIM Global Corporation. That same year, Rakuten had launched a $100 million global investment fund which aimed to invest in early-stage technology ventures.
Early last year, Rakuten had launched its own bitcoin dubbed the ‘Rakuten Coin’. While regulators in several countries including India have been clamping down on cryptocurrencies, Japan had legalised bitcoin in 2017.
Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded its services to fintech, digital content and communications, reaching more than 1.2 billion consumers around the world across 30 countries.