Set up in 2012, ArtyPlantz has incubated social enterprises working in the urban ecology and sustainability sector.
Radha Eswar, sitting in the terrace garden of her office at RT Nagar tells me how she has been in search of the right way of living. An architect by profession, the 51-year-old was often discouraged by the many unsustainable practices in the world of construction. “Soon, I began to follow the carbon footprint movement, and others associated, for sustainable construction methods,” says Radha.
Making lifestyle changes like homeschooling her children, she was impressed with how well it worked for them.
I believe every individual is born with unique capabilities. Once you help them discover themselves and hone their qualities, they will be able to spread goodness all around, explains Radha.
Of brave beginnings
Radha wanted to extend her success with homeschooling her children to budding entrepreneurs, and started ArtyPlantz on February 24, 2012.
Recalling her journey of guiding and mentoring eco-friendly ventures with ArtyPlantz over six years, Radha explains: “The most unique feature of our incubating efforts is how we enable enterprises to sustain themselves through a flourishing a fractal system”.
Radha and her husband Murali conduct extensive research and surveys to customise mentorship sessions for companies they wanted to incubate.
The data collated by all these studies enables us to map the enabling and inhibiting factors for a particular social enterprise. Having considered even the minutest details, we can devise an innovation process/ business model that minimises the inhibiting factors and enhances the enabling factors, shares Radha.
Started as a self-funded initiative, ArtyPlantz has supported companies like Urban Mali, Pavitraka HT Trust, Purnapoosam Health Centre, IdeinLab Innovations, Growing In Nature, Farm Fresh Bangalore, JustBe Learning, 3DArchVisuals and AltLabs. It considers its research-based innovation technique as the USP of the incubation they provide. “It’s also the most challenging part,” says Radha.
She adds, “ArtyPlantz’s services are open to everyone who has the courage to sustain and create social enterprises that heal lands and, in turn, minds.”
Today, Urban Mali, a home gardening service, has built over 100 urban gardens under the leadership of Vandana Krishnamurthy. Apart from vouching for native plants that can be nurtured without the use of any chemical pesticides, Urban Mali is unique for having empowered many migrant gardeners in the city.
The story of Punarpoosam Health Centre is no different. Headed by Naturopathy doctor Achyuthan Eswar, this health care social enterprise has enabled over 700 citizens to become healthy by adopting simple changes in lifestyle using natural plant-based foods, rather than resorting to popping pills.
IdeinLab Innovations is spreading innovations in sustainable construction, especially in affordable housing. Pavitraka HT Trust is offering healing services to special needs populations like autistic, mentally and physically challenged children, cancer patients, and those with stress and trauma through horticultural theraphy.
ArtyPlantz is currently incubating six social enterprises at a time, and is looking forward to onboard many more in coming days. Apart from devising appropriate business models, Radha and Murali aid these startups with finding clients, marketing and sales, strategy and finance, and social media promotions.
Since Radha is keen on cashing in on the special qualities of each social entrepreneur, they also indulge in awareness building training in the form of personality development, communication skills and other workshops. Currently, the incubation programmes ranges from three to five years.
The journey ahead
Despite initial hurdles to keep fund flow steady, ArtyPlantz has evolved into an incubation centre for many social startups. Radha is also in talks with Atal Innovation Mission for a grant that will stabilise the incubation period to three years, with a refundable deposit from incubated companies.
On plans to scale up, Radha says, “I first look forward to stabilising all the primary social enterprises we incubate. Though we are already growing organically, some regularised investments will open the doors for accelerated growth”.
I derive inspiration from characters like Jack Sparrow and Tom Sawyer who believe in doing things smartly, without losing sight of right and wrong, jokes Radha when I ask her what keeps her going despite her frequent chemotherapy sessions, having recently being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I have come to realise that it takes little to put our society back on track. Within our ArtyPlantz setup, there is so much positive energy that comes back to me from all the people I have mentored. And this will enable me to work till my last breath,” she signs off.