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Those of you working on ideas with the potential to improve, evolve or even reinvent systems of law and justice may have come across the news about the Agami Prize 2020. When we wrapped up the inaugural Prize in 2018 we made a promise – every year the Prize will be at least 2x more powerful in terms of its ability to amplify not just the ideas and ventures. We’re ready to deliver on that promise this year.

Some of you would have doubts about applying for the Prize – whether it’s worth your time and effort, being a principal one, and I thought it would be useful to put those out as questions, with my responses. Hope this helps!

Question One – There is just one winner in each category of the Agami Prize, except for the Idea Prizes. I think what we’re doing is great but it’s unlikely we’re going to win. Is it worth the effort to apply?

Yes, you should. Here are three reasons why:

One – The Agami Prize organisers are committed to shining a light not just on the four winners (across the three categories) but on all the finalists and even those who are shortlisted. Whether it is broadcasting the news, participant profiles and stories within our extensive and influential community of innovators, business and social leaders, or leveraging the networks of powerful Prize partners, a much larger cohort of participants will get the benefits of their participation.

Two – Those of you know us well know a bit about the power of the Agami Summit. The last Agami Summit, on November 30 in Bangalore, drew over 300 incredible participants from industry and civil society, with over 90% walking away ‘deeply inspired’. This year we don’t know if we can do an in-person Summit but whether it is a virtual experience later this year or an in-person Summit early next year, all those shortlisted will be invited to attend and participate.

Three – The Agami network of innovators, change-minded business and social leaders, and progressive practitioners has now become a platform to introduce innovators to people and ideas that can help their ventures and make sectoral changes happen faster. Regardless of whether you are shortlisted, in the final list, or a winner, just being part of the Prize means who are a part of the network.

Four – It takes a little more than an hour to write a really good application. As the lead changemaker or entrepreneur, you anyways know this stuff backwards. The process of submitting the entry and going through review and feedback is, for most people, useful in itself. It helps you improve your idea and how you present it to the world. After all, storytelling is one of the most important skills you can have as a changemaker. We have designed the process to maximise the self-reflection and feedback.

Question Two – We are a commercial venture and are concerned that disclosing our work will jeopardise us.

I understand the concern, but it’s misplaced. Take a look at those questions in the application form. There is very little we are asking more than what’s already on your website, Linkedin pages, or other media. In fact you’re probably disclosing much more to clients, consumers, or users. If you share with us more detailed information on a follow-up call or in advanced stages of evaluation you can let us know of your concerns and we will be mindful of using that information only to evaluate your work and draw patterns across different ideas.

Question Three – We sought funding from one of the Partners on the Prize and didn’t receive it. Is that going to jeopardise us? Another related question – one of the Partners on the Prize supports a competing venture; does that jeopardise us?

No philanthropic or investment organization that is also a partner to the Prize is involved in either the screening process or the final Jury process. Every venture is screened by two separate screeners unassociated with the Partners, and we have a track record of excellent and independent Jury members. For our first Prize it was Justice Srikrishna, former director of CHRI Maja Daruwala, Ashoka Fellow and noted environmental lawyer Ritvik Dutta, and 500Startups venture partner and entrepreneur Shalini Prakash. This year’s Jury will be announced by mid-July. Furthermore, after feedback from the first Prize we’ve taken a harder look at possible conflicts amongst screeners and made the processes more robust.

Question Four – Even if I win there is not that much Prize money available. Is it really worth it applying to the Agami Prize?

Money is always a good thing but the real value of the Prize is exponentially greater: the Agami Prize is a platform where ideas are showcased to a large number of credible industry and social impact players in law, justice, and government. Being a finalist or winning the Prize is a validation of what you’re doing as being truly transformative and important. It opens doors and creates opportunities like none other.

Note – In mid-2018, when we were organizing the inaugural Agami Prize I had written a similar piece – Given that 2020 feels like another decade, both in terms of where the world is at and what Agami has to offer, I felt it necessary to rewrite it.

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