Pune-based EcoAd started their business in one of the most crucial sectors in India – waste management – working to reduce the usage of highly polluting plastic bags. Women who would otherwise have no income, are employed by the team to produce paper bags and customize them with the brand of the local stores where the bags are eventually sold.
Swapnil Chaturvedi, Founder and Director of Samagra Sanitation, Ashoka Fellow, and supporter of the Gates Foundation, which funds him, granted the first round of investments to the company.
Since the last time we spoke with the team, they started supplying local stores in other cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mangalore, and Bangalore reaching 80 costumers. The women employed to produce the bags are for the moment based only in Pune, but the team is planning to establish a production base in Mumbai as well.
EcoAd is now operationally profitable and is planning to scale to increase the income of the organization as a whole. The market they can capture is indeed quite broad. Only in Pune six crore of plastic bags are used every month, “we are aiming to capture a significant portion of that in the next six quarters” says the Founder Rohit Nayak.
With the new funding, EcoAd is planning to strengthen and expand their partnerships, increase the team, and invest in marketing. This latter point is fundamental because so far changing the mentality of customers and final users has been a challenge for them. Marketing initiatives will help them not only to advertise their products, but to impact the social behavior which is still quite insensitive regarding the environmental consequences of using plastic bags.
More than anything thou, the team’s motivation is highly fuelled by the rewards they have achieved so far. “There are two things which make us proud,” says Nayak “firstly, we have contributed to reduce the usage of plastic bags in Pune. Citizens use 3.5. lakh plastic bags less every month and, although the problem is far from being solved, we feel good about doing something to solve the issue.” Secondly, the women employed to produce the bags have uplifted their standard of life; according to Nayank, the income they earn contributes to empower them and they can spend on education and healthcare for their families.