This International Youth Day, here’s a look at young entrepreneurs using technology and innovation for social good
“What is the one-sentence summary of how you change the world? Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting!”
As you settle down to Google Co-Founder Larry Page’s idea of something “uncomfortably exciting”, allow us to bring your attention to a question alarmingly simple – what does it need to change the world? Is it a devilishly clever mind? A degree from the finest of universities abroad? Years of experience working and acquiring a set of skills? Or just an inextinguishable desire to take up a cause close to your heart and devote your 100 percent to it?
For Stanford graduate Larry Page, who started working on the search engine giant along with fellow alumnus Sergei Brin in the year 1995, it was his love for innovation (and admiration for the visionary scientist Nikola Tesla).
Of course, the various technological advancements played its part as well. But had it not been for Larry’s entrepreneurial spirit – since the age of 12, he was confident he would start a company someday – Google wouldn’t have become the $800 billion company that it is today.
Between then and now, technology has progressed by leaps and bounds and so has the interest of young entrepreneurs to build/do something for the society.
It is a generation of self-starters and here are five instances of their entrepreneurial endeavours for the social good:
Beco – fighting plastic pollution with eco-friendly alternatives
According to a report published by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2017, India generates about 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste every day. What’s more serious is that almost half of all this waste is single-use plastic.
Not only is plastic the single-largest contributor to environmental pollution, but also poses a significant risk to animals and marine life. Concerned with this growing menace, especially after witnessing the havoc that plastic pollution causes on the beaches, four engineers Aditya Ruia, Anuj Ruia, Akshay Varma, and Punit Batra started Beco in 2017 in Mumbai.
The bootstrapped startup manufactures eco-friendly and cost-efficient products that provide consumers with the same flexibility that single-use items provide. But minus the detrimental effect that these products have on the environment.
“Our main objective was to establish ourselves as a retail-first brand, and we have been clocking sales of Rs 2.5 lakh per month,” adds co-founder Punit.
Agua Water Systems – smart devices for smart distribution of water
On one hand, we have disappearing water bodies and on the other hand, disposal of waste into the rivers and lakes coupled with poor management of water as a resource. The dual effect has undoubtedly worsened the water scarcity issue in the country.
Bengaluru-based Agua Water Systems has a smart way to address this challenge. Founded by friends Rohit Nara, Siddharth Vaidyanathan, Sorish Arora, and Kanish Aggarwal, the startup has developed a plug-and-play system that makes use of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the water usage, measure water level in the pump, and also control the distribution of water.
“With our smart systems in place, residents can save in terms of their water usage, bills, and overall management. Our ultrasonic water sensors fitted in the tank can help an individual save 40 percent of water,” says Rohit Nara, Founder and CEO of Agua.
Inde' Loom – fair share makes way for a brighter future
Equal distribution and fair share - this is key to not just environmental conservation but also solving the problem of exploitation of artisans and ensure they get their due.
With this in mind, Sandhya Tholi and Suren Chowdhary started Inde’ Loom - a “maker-to-market” handloom collective, in Hyderabad. The startup works with artisans and weavers across India to offer better, handcrafted products to women shoppers globally. Along the way, they ensure the artisans earn a fair share in “safe working conditions”.
As Suren Chowdhary, Co-founder, Inde’ Loom, explains, “We don't have middlemen, and so pass all the extra money to weavers directly, and help them earn more profits and wages.”
Last Ripple – a sapling to preserve the memory
Changemakers come in all shapes and sizes.
Nineteen-year-old law student Pramodh Chandrashekhar wanted to help pet owners preserve the memory of their beloved pets, long after they were gone. So, he came up with a unique eco-friendly idea. He started an initiative called the Last Ripple, which creates biodegradable urns that collect the ash of the pet. A sapling is then planted on top of it, which later grows into a memory tree.
These saplings can be planted wherever the pet owner chooses to. In addition to this, these trees are geo-tagged in order to help customers find the trees even after a decade.
Khetee - agroforestry to the rescue
In India, one-fifth of rural households with farming as their primary occupation is said to be living below the poverty line. A primary reason behind this is the lack of knowledge when it comes to the modern farming practices; basically, methods that ensure there is limited stress on soil and water.
Realising the gap here, Kumar Neeraj and Dharamjeet Kumar founded Khetee in 2017 to help farmers adopt agroforestry models to improve their output.
The Bihar-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) has so far organised free workshops and training sessions on various farming techniques like permaculture, alley cropping, wind breaks, and upland buffers.
In addition, the NGO also works with farmers to implement agroforestry models according to their needs.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)