5 Indian Companies Fighting Global Poverty


SANTA CLARA, California — Five Indian companies make up one-third of those selected for this year’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) Accelerator in Santa Clara, California.

The social entrepreneurs who take part in this program will work closely with business experts from Silicon Valley to learn how to scale their business for maximum impact in fighting global poverty.

The GSBI Accelerator provides mentorship to nonprofit and for-profit companies and startups working to make social changes in their home countries and around the world.

Executives from each company are paired up with two Silicon Valley CEOs for an intensive 10-month mentorship. After completing the three phases of the program, the social entrepreneurs will have a chance to pitch their companies to hundreds of investors.

Social entrepreneurs are different than regular businessmen. As the GSBI Executive Summary explains, “They are motivated by solving social problems rather than accumulating private wealth.”

he companies who partner with GSBI seek solutions to the problems impoverished people face, such as lack of electricity, unclean water and discrimination against women.

Since its beginning in 2003, GSBI has trained more than 365 social enterprises from 61 different countries. The past 12 years have seen incredible successes for the companies who take part in the program. One such story is the success of Iluméxico.

In 2013, Iluméxico CEO Manuel Wiechers participated in GSBI Accelerator after facing various obstacles with the company he started in 2009. Wiechers, whose dream was to provide solar power to households in rural Mexico, had difficulty reaching his target clients.

Wiechers worked with Silicon Valley experts to refine his business model to better suit his clients’ needs. Today Iluméxico has brought solar power to more than 18,000 households in rural Mexico.

This year’s GSBI Accelerator is largely made up of companies based in India. India — the second most populous country in the world — has made great economic strides since globalizing in the 1980s. However, despite India’s growing middle class, poverty and corruption is still rampant in many regions of the country.

The five Indian social enterprises participating in this year’s GSBI Accelerator seek to maximize their potential to service the impoverished regions of India. The companies — AquaSafi Purification System, Naandi Community Water Services, Banka BioLoo, Essmart and Rangsutra Crafts India — mainly focus on water treatment and finance.

In India, 108.3 million people currently lack drinkable water. AquaSafi Purification System addresses this problem by installing water purification devices in rural villages in the state of Karnataka. AquaSafi centers provide 100,000 people clean drinking water every day.

Locals are trained in water purification so that they can manage the water systems themselves. GSBI Accelerator will help AquaSafi achieve its goal to expand past India and quench 880 million people around the world in need of clean water.

Naandi Community Water Services also provides those in need with access to clean drinking water. So far, Naandi has reached more than 500,000 in 375 villages. Naandi Community Water Services is part of a larger non-governmental organization which seeks to provide wide-scale education, nutrition, sustainable farming techniques and maternal care across India.

In addition to issues with drinking water, 802 million people in India have no sanitation services. Banka BioLoo developed biotoilets, which treat human waste with bacterial cultures instead of complex and expensive treatment systems. This allows 115,000 liters of water to be recycled daily and provides people jobs maintaining the biotoilets.

Essmart and Rangsutra Crafts India are involved in the financial sector. The founders of Essmart noticed that life-saving technologies such as solar lamps and stoves were not reaching those who needed them the most. Essmart creates distribution centers and retail shops to make sure these technologies reach the hands of those they were designed for.

Rangsutra Crafts India provides a platform for rural artisans and farmers to access a larger consumer base for their products. Many of the burgeoning entrepreneurs that Rangsutra Crafts India helps are women formerly disenfranchised by gender discrimination.

Many countries are starting to recognize the benefits of social entrepreneurship. Independence from aid and grants make social entrepreneurship a good supplement to traditional methods when pursuing the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals to eradicate global poverty.

Poverty in India has decreased from 45.3 percent in 1993 to 21.9 percent in 2011, but there is still a long way to go. Partnerships with GSBI and Silicon Valley will help to improve the lives of the 265.1 million Indians who still live in extreme poverty.

Celestina Radogno

Sources: AquaSafi Purification System, BBC, CensusInfo India 2011, GSBI Executive Summary, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Naandi, Water.org, World Bank
Photo: Flickr


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