“Next chapter of India’s startup story written by small towns”: Ritesh Agarwal announces Rs 1 Cr grant for grassroots entrepreneurs
In a tweet, ’s Founder and Chairman, Ritesh Agarwal pledged Rs 1 crore to support micro-entrepreneurs from small towns of India. He said that being from Rayagada in Odisha, he knows the unique privilege of being able to give back.
"These startups are poised to put their hometown on the map & let the world experience their rich culture. I hope my contribution can support their journey," Ritesh said in a statement.
He also named the first four startups from Ladakh and the Himalayan region that will receive a part of this equity-free grant. These startups have been a part of the Naropa Fellowship programme.
Naropa Fellowship, co-founded by His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche and Dr Pramath Raj Sinha, is a Ladakh-based fellowship programme aimed at creating environmentally and socially conscious entrepreneurs of tomorrow from the Himalayan region. The fellowship provides a platform for budding entrepreneurs to create businesses that add value to the local community and bring economic sustainability to the region
The tweet shared by Agarwal said, “Small towns in India will write the next chapter of India’s startup story & I am delighted to extend my support to this momentum, through an initial pledge of INR 1CR equity-free grant & mentorship to grassroots entrepreneurs across India, starting with 4 fantastic startups from the Naropa Fellowship”
Ritesh said that small-town entrepreneurs often struggle with a lack of access to resources and expertise. "Through strategic feedback, mentorship sessions and funding, I look forward to doing my part for grassroots entrepreneurship," he added.
Ritesh Agarwal has worked closely in collaboration with the Naropa Fellowship to shortlist four startups that will bring value to and boost local economies. Here are the four startups who will get an equity grant from Ritesh, and mentorship.
EcoKash: EcoKash is a women-owned, sustainable fashion and branding startup that promote the rich culture, tradition, and art of Kashmir using eco-friendly fabrics stitched by skilled women artisans from the region.
The Himalayan Chocolates: The startup is focused on creating unconventional livelihood options for the Himalayan people by manufacturing chocolates using local and indigenous organic ingredients.
Zarin: A B2B platform that facilitates the processing and supply of Kashmiri rainbow trout to ecommerce platforms and premium hotel chains across India.
My Pahadi Dukan: An ecommerce platform featuring curated products from small- and medium-scale enterprises and independent sellers based in the mountains.
As per the tweet, these startups were chosen due to their high social impact, high likelihood of success & scale, unique business model and the ability to strive through adversity.