How this woman entrepreneur overcame dyslexia, became a forensic scientist, and later started up in the energy sector

As a child, Imaan Javan battled dyslexia and overcame her struggles with determination and confidence. She started Suntuity REI in 2011 to provide renewable energy solutions around the world.
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During her school years, Imaan Javan, the Director of Operations at Suntuity Renewable Energy India, was diagnosed with dyslexia. Back then, she says, it was looked down upon as a curse.

“It was very painful to see other kids excel in everything they did while the same thing for me was a big task. I did not want to be around people who knew what I was going through as they did not understand the situation, but instead made fun of it,” she recalls.

With the help of her mother and counsellor, Imaan was able to study better, frame sentences well, and gain confidence in academics. Attending boarding school in Panchgani also changed her life as the teachers knew how to handle children with dyslexia and gave her the attention she needed to excel.

Imaan pursued a bachelor’s degree in life sciences from Jai Hind College, Mumbai, and followed it up with a diploma in forensic science from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and an MBA from Cardiff University in the UK mid-way through her career.

In her early years, she wanted to study genetic engineering but as time passed, she felt that GMO and genetically modified foods were not being appreciated by people. She chose forensic science because she had always been a “curious person”, trying to investigate small every day events around her.

From forensics to energy

Imaan worked with the Mumbai police for a short period of time and says it was an eye-opening experience.

“Being stationed at the police station and going on rounds taught me a lot about how the police force works and what departments go through to keep the station going. We visited the bomb squad and dog squad department, learnt how to investigate crime sites and shred sites, and shared our knowledge with some of the police officers on evidence handling, etc,” she says.

However, life and work as a forensic scientist was not to be, and Imaan joined GeoPeak Energy as a business developer. Soon, she realised that clean energy was the requirement of the moment and decided to start up in that field.

Solar for efficiency

In 2011, she started Suntuity REI, one of the fastest-growing companies in the world that develops, finances, builds, owns and operates best-in-class residential, commercial and utility-scale renewable energy solutions around the world.

“Suntuity REI is a key player in India's renewable energy industry, offering end-to-end financing, installation and system maintenance solutions for scalable renewable energy projects. It has delivered some of the highest efficiency solar energy solutions for various off-takers in South India. We recently completed the largest solar installation on an educational institution in Mumbai and have several more such projects in the pipeline. Our goal is to be one of the main contributors to the country's attainable renewable energy targets that will help both slow climate change and drive healthier living and economic conditions for our citizens,” she says.

A major project for Suntuity REI has been the installation of a high-efficiency solar PV system for Nava Bharat, Hyderabad, a top-of-the-line system keeping aesthetics in mind “as the customer wanted to make sure the solar modules were not very visible from their guest hosting deck”.

Is it difficult being a woman entrepreneur in India?

“I do not think it is difficult to be a woman entrepreneur in India if you are adamant and persistent towards your goals. Nowadays, women entrepreneurs are being encouraged across all sectors and it is amazing to see so many excelling in everything they want to do.”

A bright future

Imaan also believes in equal opportunities and active participation of women at Suntuity. “The IRENA online gender survey 2018 puts women’s share of renewable energy workforce at 32 percent. Many steps are being taken to advance the role and recognition of women in the renewable energy sector by offering mentoring, raising awareness and integrating gender perspectives in energy access programmes. At Suntuity, we believe in equal opportunity. Women and men are both treated and compensated equally,” she says.

According to Imaan, the future looks bright for Suntuity REI. “We are working towards filling up our pipeline for the next few years. To facilitate this, we are recruiting more business development personnel, engineers, and O&M experts. Suntuity REI is part of a renewable energy conglomerate that has developed and installed over 250 megawatts of solar energy worldwide and has plans to both increase its installation capacity and deliver breakthrough solutions such as battery storage and water generation through its fully financed renewable energy solutions,” she says.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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