HDFC Bank on Tuesday disbursed SmartUp grants worth Rs 5 crore to startups working in the social sector. These grants will help nurture startups that offer unique solutions to bring about sustainable changes in society and the environment.
The grants have been offered under the aegis of Parivartan, the umbrella name for the bank’s social initiatives.
Social startups like Krishibot, BlinkResearch, Agnus, Thoomri, Taxshe Services, Ignis Careers, Rusicca, Prosoc, Forestica, Apprentice Project Foundation, Cantilever, Rainwater Project, Mitti Social Initiatives, ThinkZone, Organically, Agrocraft, and Avyantra received the grant from the bank. Of these startups, six were from IIM-Bangalore and three were from IIT-Kanpur.
About 30 shortlisted startups made presentations to a jury panel, of which the SmartUp grants were offered to about 20 startups in Bengaluru, taking the total tally to more than 60 startups who have been given this grant over the past three years.
HDFC Bank works in collaboration with incubators such as IIT-Kanpur, T-Hub, KIIT TBI, Villgro, IIM- Ahmedabad, IIM- Bangalore, and BITS Pilani to name a few, to identify startups in the social sector.
During the presentation, startups were evaluated on the sustainability of the idea, potential to scale-up, how does it benefit the society and environment, and lastly, the uniqueness of the project.
In the past, SmartUp grants have been given to some unique ideas by startups working on innovative solutions in tackling climate change, waste management, skills training, and enhancing livelihood.
Previously, these grants have been given to startups based not just in Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi, but also from Jamshedpur, Kalahandi in Odisha, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Hyderabad to name a few.
For example, last year, the grant was offered to Bleetech, a startup that works on need-based technological solutions in the social sector for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Another example is Kriya Labs, which is developing a processing technology to convert agro-waste like rice straw into pulp, which can then be used to make several biodegradable products like cups, plates, and other tableware.
Speaking on the grant, Smita Bhagat, Country Head, Government and Institutional Business, ecommerce, and startups, HDFC Bank, said,
“The SmartUp grants are part of the Bank’s endeavour to further deepen our relationship with the Indian startup ecosystem. Through the SmartUp programme, we are already engaging with the startup community to partner with them on their entrepreneurial journey, using smart financial tools, advisory services, and technology. We realise that there are startups who are working on innovative solutions to bring a sustainable change in society.”
This grant is part of a larger effort by HDFC Bank to create an ecosystem to nurture the spirit of innovation and enterprise in the startup space. It is an extension of HDFC Bank's SmartUp Solution, through which the bank offers tailor-made banking and advisory solutions to entrepreneurs.
By accessing the bank's SmartUp portal, start-ups can tap into the knowledge and experience of a complete network of startups, while simultaneously offering their services to this universe. The bank now has dedicated SmartUp zones in over 65 branches in 30 cities across India, including Tier-II and III cities that are emerging as startup hubs.
“Startups are working in enhancing livelihood, skilling, and working with the challenged sections of the society; bringing inclusive change which is in sync with our objective to give back to the society we live in,” Ashima Bhat, Group Head – CSR, Infrastructure, and Finance, HDFC Bank said.
(Edited by Suman Singh)