Five social enterprises boosting rural livelihoods in a sustainable way

Social enterprises and startups are finding different ways to connect with rural India.
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Today, we see startups helping the nation to build momentum in various sectors like technology, media, healthcare, education among others. At the same time, there are many startups and social enterprises that are working to bring a change in the lives of millions of less privileged people residing in the rural parts of the country.

These startups and enterprises are doing this by empowering rural artisans, local women, farmers, etc, and enabling them in a plethora of ways to earn better and live better with a dedicated focus on providing them with livelihood opportunities.

(Representational image)

SocialStory has curated a list of the top five enterprises that are ushering in a better tomorrow by empowering and facilitating opportunities for a better quality of life in rural India.

Notably, all of these startups/social enterprises are supported and backed by ‘Powering Livelihoods’ — a $3 million initiative jointly run by Villgro Innovations Foundation and CEEW — Council on Energy, Environment and Water to transform India’s rural economy through clean energy-based livelihood solutions.

Resham Sutra

A Delhi-based for-profit social enterprise, Resham Sutra innovates renewable energy-based rural livelihood enabling machines, empowering local rural artisans, rural women, and their families leading them to increase their income with high productivity.

Women of Odisha's Fakirpur village reeling on Resham Sutra's machines

It provides a wide range of affordable electric reeling, weaving, and spinning machines – most of them powered by solar energy – that contribute towards improving the working conditions and creating a predictable and dramatically higher income for over 10,000 silk workers in India. The startup helps rural silk yarn producers and fabric weavers to install these machines, which increases their income and reduces physical drudgery and mental stress.

Devidayal Solar Solutions

Devidayal Solar Solutions is a renewable energy innovator enterprise that focuses on developing and selling solutions such as solar refrigerators, solar street lights, solar DC fans, etc. in the DRE cold chain space.

The company collaborates with others and leverages technology to conceive and implement projects wherein renewable energy becomes an enabler to improve the lives of the people in a sustainable manner. As of date, Devidayal Solar claims to have deployed 300+ solar refrigerators in 12 Indian states, and across various sectors such as dairy, fisheries, restaurants, and retail -- which has improved the monthly incomes of their end-users by up to Rs 4,000 to 7,000, and reduced ~800 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in their lifetime.

Greenwear

Greenwear is a Lucknow-based B2B and B2C clothing brand that uses solar-powered equipment to produce yarns, fabrics, and garments. It follows and promotes the traditional Indian concept of Khadi or household-based production, powered by renewable energy resources in a bid to create high-quality yet affordable textiles and garments.

Founded by textile designer Abhishek Pathak, Greenwear addresses three pressing issues simultaneously: pollution in the textile industry, poverty in rural India, and women empowerment. Additionally, the startup also offers a unique marketplace for an eco-friendly, decentralised textile value chain, while generating livelihoods for rural women through the productive use of solar charkhas and looms.

Dharambir Food Processing

Dharambir Food Processing is manufacturing and selling a first-of-its-kind portable multi-purpose processing machine (MPP machine) that can be used to process 100+ varieties of fruits, herbs, and seeds.

With the help of their MPP machine, users, who are majorly farmers or food producers, have seen a significant increase in their income due to value addition in farm produce, and additionally, a few thousand direct jobs have been created.

Solar powered Charkha

The company also provides training to local men and women in Haryana and in various other states of the country for operating its machine optimally. It has so far provided training to more than 7000 people across various parts of the country.

Hydrogreens

A Bengaluru- based agri-tech startup, Hydrogreens has developed a climate-controlled vertical grow house ‘Kambala’ which allows dairy farmers to grow quality fodder year-round with minimal use of water and electricity.

Vasanth Madhav Kamath and Jeevan M, Co-founder, Hydrogreens Agri Solutions

The innovative grow house has been developed via a unique hydroponics system, thereby enabling the farmers to grow and manage fodder growth optimally for their cattle, while overcoming extreme climate conditions at the same time. Hydrogreens’ solution is aimed at improving the income for many dairy farmers across the country, besides improving the lifespan of their livestock, despite the dry climate, helping in producing better quality of milk (higher Immuno profile) and aiding in a quantum leap in water savings.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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