Rustam Sengupta, Boond : Solving some of the biggest global challenges
Rustam graduated from INSEAD and he has been a banker for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, a consultant for Deloitte Consulting in US and a researcher for ICOS Vision Systems in Belgium, having lived and worked in five countries across the globe. He also holds a Masters in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Irvine besides the MBA from INSEAD.After quitting his finance job in September 2009, Russ has been working with NGOs, manufacturers and villagers to design and develop the Boond products, model and supply chain.
The Boond mission is to solve some of the biggest global challenges - adequate lighting, access to clean drinking water and pest control affecting the remote areas of the world. Through its innovative environment friendly products and sustainable business oriented approach.
A child growing up in Paushi, a remote village in India studies under kerosene lamps and drinks dirty pond water everyday. This not only retards his productivity but also makes him vulnerable to life threatening diseases. This is not an isolated example but the condition in nearly 25% of India (or of nearly 300 million people). The problem is not of the lack of products as inexpensive off grid solutions do exist (in cities and western countries) but that of improper distribution channels and the lack of support services and financial alternatives. The hiatus is hence in the ‘access’ as real challenge for development is to push the productivity enhancing products to the places that need them the most in a sustainable, affordable and service centric way.
Rustam’s responsibility is to make Boond work and become sustainable on its own two feet. He gets his energy from the realisation that he is working on some of the biggest challenges that the world has ever faced and every minute that he puts into Boond helps to make a social impact. Rustam is a shortlisted candidate for Unreasonable Institute 2011 and he talks to YourStory about his social enterprise.
How is Boond creating an impact?
Boond’s solution to this problem of ‘access’ is through the development of locally managed distribution centers and agents who sell productivity enhancement items on credit. Boond ensures that the products match the needs of the community through rural feedback based designs (often extremely robust & low maintenance) and has a low cost commission based peer to peer sales model.
Some products are bundled (as the Boond Development Kit) together to reduce logistical and transportation overheads. Boond opens distribution centers in remote rural areas and trains local youth (commission based) to sell and service the products, thereby also providing them livelihood.
Rose, an agent in Manipur (remote state of India) has sold over 120 kits (with solar lamps, filters & nets) last month alone.
Who is it targeting?
Boond works with people in the remote rural areas of India. It tries to create entrepreneurs who sell and service 'productivity enhancement goods' while bringing access to light, clean water and pest control to their communities.
India is the 6th largest energy consumer in the world but 25% of its citizen or 300 million people still live in complete darkness or with rudimentary lighting
This retards their productivity and causes a significant increase in green houses gases (CO2) in the atmosphere as kerosene lamps are used instead.
According to WHO, 10% of the global disease burden could be reduced by improved access to water and sanitation and by a staggering 15 per cent in the worst?affected countries like India. Diseases like cholera, typhoid and diarrhea are rampant in India mostly due to bad water.
What will it mean for your venture to get shortlisted as the finalist to the unreasonable institute?
The Boond model and team are implementing the vision and the funds and training offered by the institute are what is required to scale it and get more talented people into the team, which is instrumental for our sustainability.
Your entrepreneurial journey so far.
The possibilities are endless and the impact is authentic and immensely satisfying. Overcoming my fear of failure and unclear direction has been a big challenge and I have realized to live with it and enjoy the process while trusting my vision 100%
Unreasonable Institute: http://marketplace.unreasonableinstitute.org/ventures/view/32/Boond-wwwboondnet